The partnership is effective for the 2020 season, allowing the Fire to loan and recall players between the League One side, as well as giving Forward Madison the ability to utilize select Chicago academy players for games and training sessions. Academy members who feature in League One play would retain their amateur status and NCAA eligibility. A member of Chicago's technical staff will also be in attendance at each of Forward Madison's home games to monitor the development of the players.
“We are thrilled to partner with Forward Madison FC as our USL affiliate,” said Chicago Fire FC Sporting Director Georg Heitz said in Thursday's release. “Madison is one of the best run clubs in USL and provides the opportunity for our younger players to develop at a top-tier organization.”
Forward Madison went 12-7-9 in their inaugural League One campaign last season, also making an impressive run to the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup before bowing out to Saint Louis FC — the farthest run in the tournament for any League One team.
"We're excited to work with the Chicago Fire as our MLS affiliate in 2020," Forward Madison chief operating officer Conor Caloia said. "We feel this partnership will have a significant impact on our fight to deliver a championship to Madison this season. Between the ownership, management team and coaching staff for the Chicago Fire, there is a great energy in that organization right now that aligns well with where we are going."
The deal marks the second League One affiliation in club history for the Fire, who were previously affiliated with Lansing Ignite.