Report: DC United to field a USL team in 2018

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by ANTHONY J. MERCED

Plans are forming for DC United to own and operate a USL team in 2018.

The MLS franchise has submitted an application to the third division league. According to the Washington Post, DC United would be the 12th MLS team to field a USL franchise. Sides have found differing ranges of success with New York and LA’s reserve sides yielding the best on-field results. Currently, DC United has an affiliation with the Richmond Kickers, although operating a team with the league will give DC more say in player development.

As for a venue, it is being reported that United are interested in having the team play in Maryland. A preliminary search has begun for a stadium with University of Maryland and Maryland Soccerplex in Boyds being the top candidates to host the team. The team has also spoken with officials at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia about building a 5,000 seat stadium as part of a permanent training facility. However, there have been few developments on that front.

Despite the successes that MLS-owned USL franchises have had, there are cautionary tales as well. The Montreal Impact will be closing up their USL operation after two seasons and moving towards an affiliation with the league’s newest team, the Ottawa Fury. The effort to maintain the USL side depends very much on the development of the team’s academy and their interest in pursuing young talent as a long-term MLS roster solution. Should that not be of interest to DC, a USL team may bare similar results to that of FC Montreal and Toronto FC II.

There is also a cloud hanging over the league in regards to their current application for division two status. Should the league achieve their goal, there may be new requirements that may make owning a team in the league a bit more troublesome than it was for those that entered in earlier seasons.