Major League Soccer expansion club Atlanta United and the USL’s Charleston Battery announced Friday a one-year partnership for the 2016 season with potential for an extended affiliation.
The partnership comes a year before Atlanta is slated to begin competition in MLS.
“Partnering with the Battery as our USL affiliate makes sense for us on many levels,” said Atlanta United president Darren Eales in a statement. “The affiliation gives us the opportunity to sign players in 2016 and develop them in a high-level, professional environment while adding value to the Battery’s existing roster. We also like the close proximity of Charleston to Atlanta which gives our supporters an early opportunity to attend matches and contribute to the atmosphere.”
Every MLS club was mandated at the start of the 2015 season to secure a USL partnership or create their own teams to foster competition for developing young talent.
“Our ownership philosophy has always been to have affiliation and to support MLS, going a long way back,” said Charleston Battery president Andrew Bell in the statement. “We like being affiliated with an MLS brand, and we’re hoping to get some significant contributions to our roster through this partnership. We definitely want to see Atlanta United succeed, and we’re excited to be a part of what they are building.”
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As Atlanta United continues to hire key staff in 2016, the Battery affiliation will allow the head coach and technical staff oversight of signed players as well as academy players placed in Charleston. Atlanta United’s staff will work closely with the Battery to provide technical, sports science and performance support.
"This is an exciting step in the development of our club,” said Atlanta United technical director Carlos Bocanegra in the statement. “Charleston Battery is a well-respected, well-run USL club. Affiliating at this point gives us time to build a strong working relationship and allows our players time to train and compete together. We look forward to working with the Battery to develop some of our young players ahead of our opening season in 2017.”