Houston’s young players will have a spot on the Carolina coast this season, as the Dynamo have struck a deal to affiliate with USL PRO's Charleston Battery for the 2015 season.
The deal will allow Houston to loan approximately four players to the historic USL franchise throughout the year and provides an avenue for the club’s up-and-coming talents to get meaningful games and hone their skills.
“What we like about Charleston is that they run things in a very professional manner and hold themselves to very high standards,” Dynamo general manager Matt Jordan told MLSsoccer.com by phone Monday. “I think what’s drawn us to Charleston is that they’re one of the most established organizations in USL that’s very stable and a professional organization. We’re looking forward to the affiliation to put our players in an environment where they need to perform.”
On the surface, Charleston screams consistency and development. Head coach Mike Anhaeuser took the reins at the club in 2005, winning two titles and hhelping develop future MLS players such as Osvaldo Alonso, Lamar Neagle and Alex Caskey.
“Their proven track record of helping players grow was a big factor in this affiliation,” Jordan said. “I’ve worked with Mike Anhaeuser and [club president] Andrew Bell over the years on a lot of different projects. I like the way they handle themselves and they’re a very professional and dedicated organization.”
Last season Houston had an affiliate deal with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, which garnered mixed reviews.
Jason Johnson (12 appearances, one goal) and Michael Lisch (17 appearances) are current Dynamo players that got the most out of that arrangement, along with now former player Anthony Arena (16 appearances). But the deal was unsettled as the Riverhounds went through a coaching change midseason and the Dynamo consistently had to shuttle players back and forth due to player needs.
One candidate to head to East Coast in 2015 could be recent Homegrown signing Jose “Memo” Rodriguez, while a new crop of youngsters will also come in through the MLS SuperDraft in January. In truth, the deal will benefit any player on the roster that needs competitive games.
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The agreement is the best possible bridge the Dynamo could provide to the 2016 season, when they plan to introduce their own USL PRO franchise. The club is currently looking at operating that franchise in the Rio Grande Valley.
“We’re still exploring starting our own standalone team, but we’re excited about this affiliation and this partnership for 2015,” Jordan said. “They have first-class facilities, they run things in a very professional manner and they have a very strong reputation. We’re very excited about it.”
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.