In the affiliation agreement between Sporting Kansas City and Orlando City FC, each got the partner it most wanted.
The two sides announced the agreement on Wednesday, hours after MLS and the third-tier USL Pro announced a deal to allow such partnerships and to have MLS Reserve teams play against USL Pro competition during the regular season.
“We like what they do as an organization,” Sporting manager Peter Vermes told MLSsoccer.com by telephone. “We like that they're motivated to try to come into MLS. We like the way they play. It has similar characteristics to the way that we try to play. So it fits from a business perspective as well as a technical perspective. This is the club that we wanted to do the partnership with.”
Orlando City coach Adrian Heath echoed Vermes' sentiments, but from his own club's perspective.
“I don't think that we could have picked a better, more progressive – on and off the field – club to partner up with,” Heath said by telephone. “I think I speak for everybody within our organization: We're incredibly impressed with everything about Sporting. From our view, it's a no-lose situation.”
Under the agreement, Sporting will send at least four players to Orlando City this season. Those players will be determined before the start of the MLS season, Vermes said.
“Whether we send four or five, or six players, if we pull one back we'll try to replace him with another,” he said. “They're going to be counting on these players to be in their roster as well.”
Sporting already had a direct tie to Orlando City in defender Lawrence Olum, who played for the Lions in 2011. Kansas City also train in Orlando each spring, taking part in the Disney Challenge Cup, and last year outlasted the USL Pro side 3-2 in US Open Cup play.
“We've got great respect for Peter and his coaching staff there,” Heath said. “Great respect for the way that they play. I think it's going to be a great fit. We feel humbled that they wanted to do the agreement with us.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.