MLS clubs continue to get involved in the league's partnership with the USL PRO, and yet another team has announced a formal affiliation for 2014.
The Vancouver Whitecaps announced Thursday that they will affiliate with the Charleston Battery in an initial one-year partnership. Vancouver will send at least four players from their roster to play for the Battery during the 2014 USL PRO season. As a result of the partnership, the Whitecaps will not participate in the 2014 MLS Reserve League.
“The Battery are a well-respected club with a tradition of success on and off the pitch," said Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi in a statement. "We have a long-standing relationship with the Battery's president Andrew Bell, dating back to our days in the USL First Division, and we are excited to formalize an official partnership.
"This affiliation will greatly benefit the development of our younger players by providing an opportunity for them receive more minutes in a professional environment and as a result it will help with player transition from our Residency and U-23 programs into the first team.”
The teams had an informal arrangement in 2013, when Vancouver sent midfielder Bryce Alderson and two Whitecaps U-23 players, midfielder Ben Fisk and defender Emmanuel Adjetey, on loan to Charleston.
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The Battery last won a trophy in 2012 when they won the USL PRO title. Founded in 1993, they also made the 2008 US Open Cup final, becoming the first lower-division side to make the final since 1999.
The agreement leaves only three USL PRO clubs – Charlotte Eagles, LA Blues, and Phoenix FC – without an affiliation agreement. MLS clubs who have affiliated with USL PRO clubs are: Columbus (Dayton Dutch Lions), D.C. United (Richmond KIckers), Houston (Pittsburgh Riverhounds), New England Revolution (Rochester Rhinos), Philadelphia (Harrisburg City Islanders), Portland Timbers (Sacramento Republic FC), San Jose Earthquakes (Sacramento Republic FC), Sporting Kansas City (Oklahoma City Energy, Orlando City), and Toronto FC (Wilmington Hammerheads).