Sporting Kansas City will become the latest MLS team to form its own USL side following the club’s Thursday announcement of the formation of the Swope Park Rangers.
The new team will begin play at Swope Soccer Village in the 2016 season.
"It's a thrill to welcome a new sports team to Kansas City and especially to Swope Soccer Village, a city facility that benefits the entire Kansas City area," Mayor Sly James said in a statement. "Congratulations to Sporting Kansas City for expanding in a way that creates new soccer excitement, adds jobs and will bring fans from across the region."
The Swope Park Rangers, a name that originated with Sporting Kansas City's reserve team in 2008, will be one of five teams to make its USL debut in 2016.
"We are excited to welcome Sporting Kansas City and the Swope Park Rangers KC to the USL for the 2016 season," USL president Jake Edwards said. "Sporting Kansas City is consistently one of the top organizations in MLS and has a fantastic locally-based ownership group that is committed to building the soccer culture throughout the Kansas City region. We expect that commitment to result in a highly successful club, playing in historic Swope Park, which will be embraced by local fans. We are also excited about the rivalry that we expect to develop between the Swope Park Rangers KC and Saint Louis FC, as we continue to grow the USL's presence in the central US."
A partner of Major League Soccer (MLS) since 2013, USL is one of the largest professional soccer leagues in the world with 30 teams across the United States and Canada, including a total of 11 teams owned/operated by MLS clubs.
"This is a great opportunity to fill in an important piece between the Sporting KC Academy and our senior team as part of the long-term vision for our organization," said Peter Vermes, Sporting Kansas City manager and technical director. "We were fortunate to have a mutually beneficial affiliation with OKC Energy FC the past two years. Moving forward, the USL will offer a great level of play and we're looking forward to building the Swope Park Rangers roster."
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Like Sporting KC, the Swope Park Rangers will feature a jersey sponsorship from Ivy Funds. The Rangers will be closely integrated within Sporting Club's short-term and long-term strategic goals, providing a pathway to the professional level for players in the Sporting KC Academy and a proving ground for players on loan from Sporting KC. Five players currently on Sporting Kansas City's roster have featured in the USL while on loan in recent years, highlighted by Dom Dwyer's record-setting season in 2013 with then partner Orlando City SC prior to becoming an MLS All-Star a year later.
Open tryouts for the Swope Park Rangers will be held at Swope Soccer Village on Nov. 21-22 for prospective players ages 18 and up. The team's head coach, as well as roster signings, jersey designs and inaugural schedule, will be announced in the coming months.