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FC Dallas planning USL PRO affiliate partnership for 2015, hope to field own team in 2016

FC Dallas plan to complete an affiliation partnership with a USL PRO club for 2015, but hope to field their own team in the third-tier league in 2016, FCD president Dan Hunt told the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday.

The North Texas club has built a prolific youth academy structure, and a USL PRO linkup is seen as the next step in helping to groom young talent for the senior team, with Hunt telling the Morning News that an official announcement “should come in the next 30-60 days.”

New USL PRO clubs in Austin, Texas, and Tulsa, Okla., appear to be the leading contenders for a 2015 pairing with FCD, but Hunt declined to identify specifically which teams or cities are in contention.

“We are in the final stages of having an affiliate for the 2015 USL PRO season,” said Hunt. “I won’t elaborate who it is out of respect for them and also the league. We develop our own young players, and this is a great way to get these kids meaningful games.”

The FC Dallas Academy has churned out a long list of Homegrown players in recent years, but many have struggled to find regular playing time with the senior team, leading the club to craft loan moves like the one that sent youngster Jonathan Top to USL PRO side Arizona United this season.

“We want [somewhere] close enough that we can get to them,” noted Hunt, “spend time with them so that even our head coach, Oscar [Pareja], or the assistants can go and see the players play on down time.”

This year the LA Galaxy became the first MLS club to field their own USL PRO side with the advent of Galaxy II, while more than half of the league's teams have crafted affiliate partnerships. Real Salt Lake confirmed this week that they plan to field a USL PRO team in 2015, while Vancouver, New York and Seattle have previously announced similar intentions.