San Antonio FC has brokered a partnership with Major League Soccer (MLS) club New York City FC (NYCFC) both teams announced on Thursday afternoon. The agreement sees the two teams designated as the official affiliate club of the other and includes on and off field partnerships.
The focus of the deal seems to be mainly sharing of knowledge and resources, which will certainly be a boost to San Antonio FC’s MLS ambitions. The other major focus, as with any of these deals between MLS and United Soccer League (USL) clubs is player movement, with NYCFC providing players on loan to San Antonio throughout the 2017 season.
The affiliate agreement between the two leagues allows for MLS teams to send four players to their USL affiliate. That doesn’t mean that this will definitely happen, but it is a win-win for the two clubs as NYCFC gets to send out players not getting game time while San Antonio FC get squad depth for free.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with New York City FC as we continue to shape the ambitious future of San Antonio FC,” said SAFC Managing Director Tim Holt, in a press release. “NYCFC has quickly established itself as one of the highest performing clubs in Major League Soccer (editor’s note: they made the conference semifinals in 2016, their second season), and there is a considerable amount we can learn from their successful sporting and business models. We look forward to cooperating with our new partners and are excited by this tremendous boost headed into the 2017 season.”
Holt’s NYCFC partner, sporting director Claudio Reyna was growing about San Antonio FC and their owners, Spurs Sports & Entertainment. “This will be an important affiliation for NYCFC with an ambitious, forward-thinking club like San Antonio FC which shares our drive to grow the game within their own passionate soccer community,” said Reyna in a press release. “Spurs Sports & Entertainment is a best-in-class professional sports organization that New York City FC can learn a great deal from as we look to grow our club on and off the field within the American sporting landscape. We also believe this will be a mutually beneficial relationship which will allow us to share ideas and knowledge on team and coaching development between the two clubs. This is an exciting announcement for both clubs and I’m looking forward to seeing the benefits that both teams can reap from it.”
There have been mixed responses from the San Antonio soccer public on twitter, with the majority in favor but a few concerned about what this means for MLS expansion. It appears that it shouldn’t be an issue and can only lead to a stronger relationship with MLS. Phoenix Rising, a club also in the expansion race was affiliated with FC Dallas, Sacramento Republic has been previously affiliated, while Saint Louis FC are affiliated with Chicago Fire, although the club are not involved in the Saint Louis MLS bid.