The San Jose Earthquakes announced on Wednesday that they have signed a two-year USL affiliate partnership with incoming USL club Reno 1868 FC that will begin in the 2017 season.
The partnership will see the Earthquakes lead all aspects of Reno’s soccer operations, while Reno – which will begin play in USL next year – will run the business side.
Wednesday’s news means San Jose’s relationship with Sacramento Republic FC will end following this season. The two clubs had been affiliated since Republic FC’s inaugural season in 2014. Republic FC has campaigned to be selected for MLS expansion, and league commissioner Don Garber visited the city and met with club ownership earlier this year.
"We are excited to partner with Reno 1868 FC as our USL affiliate to strengthen our player development system," Earthquakes president Dave Kaval said in a statement released by the club. "Sacramento Republic FC has been a tremendous partner over the past two seasons and we wish them great success. The affiliation with Reno 1868 allows our club to have control over all aspects of the technical side of the club, which is critical for our overall player development strategy. We plan to put a very competitive team on the field next season and beyond for the Reno community."
Reno 1868 FC are owned and operated by Herb Simon, who also owns the Indiana Pacers of the NBA, the NBA D-League Fort Wayne (Ind.) Mad Ants, the WNBA's Indiana Fever and the Reno Aces of minor league baseball’s Pacific Coast League. Reno 1868 FC will play home matches at Greater Nevada Field, which is also home to the Aces, and which features a natural grass surface.
"Our affiliation with Reno ensures there is no gap in the club's development pyramid and offers our players a team at every level from youth to professional," Earthquakes technical director Chris Leitch said in the statement. "Having a fully-integrated USL team will also allow the Earthquakes to expand their professional player roster beyond the 28 at the MLS level, and provides the opportunity for rehab assignments and minutes to maintain both fitness and form."
San Jose will return to action on Friday, when they’ll take on the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park (8 pm ET; UniMas, UDN in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada).