January 29, 2014
By Charles Cuttone
GOING USL PRO
Galaxy to own team in third division league
The Los Angeles Galaxy has become the first Major League Soccer team to place a franchise in the third division USL PRO. LA Galaxy II will join the league for the 2014 season, and will play at the Stub Hub Center.
The Galaxy II is the second USL PRO team in the Los Angeles market. The LA Blues play at Titan Stadium in Fullerton.
Galaxy assistant coach Curt Onalfo has been promoted, and will be the head coach of Galaxy II. Onalfo, a former MLS player and Galaxy assistant coach since 2011 helped lead the Galaxy Reserves to back-to-back MLS Reserve League West Division titles in 2011 and 2012. The 44-year-old played for Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena at the University of Virginia and with D.C. United in 1998 and then served as his assistant coach with the U.S. National Team for four years, including at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
“We believe the LA Galaxy are taking a monumental step for player development in North America,” Galaxy President Chris Klein said in a statement. “The creation of LA Galaxy II, through USL PRO, provides the Galaxy with a fully realized, in-house player development program starting with the Under-12 Academy through the LA Galaxy first team. The investment of AEG and the Galaxy for LA Galaxy II will allow us to continue to develop the best players in Southern California while closing the gap between the Galaxy Academy and the LA Galaxy.”
Major League Soccer began its relationship with USL PRO last year, with MLS teams either choosing to affiliate with an existing USL PRO franchise by 2015, or by forming their own team in the league, with 10 USL PRO teams already having entered into MLS affiliation agreements. Only Chivas USA, the Chicago Fire, New York Red Bulls, Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas, Seattle Sounders and Montreal Impact do not as yet have USL PRO affiliates
The agreement has already borne fruit from MLS teams, with last year's USL PRO leading scorer Dom Dwyer making the move to Sporting Kansas City and helping them down the stretch en route to the MLS Championship. A number of regulars on the Philadelphia Union have also spent time with the team's Harrisburg City Islanders affiliate, a partnership the two teams began three years before the two leagues set up their agreement.
The addition of LA Galaxy II creates a 14-team league for USL PRO in 2014, with Sacramento Republic FC and OKC Energy joining the Galaxy as expansion sides, while VSI Tampa Bay and Antigua Barracuda FC are dropping out. Franchises in Colorado Springs, Colorado and Tulsa, Oklahoma are already announced for 2015, while the league will lose Orlando City SC, who are making the move up to MLS next year. The 2014 USL PRO schedule will be released later this week.
The arrangement gives the Galaxy a full tiered developmental system, with the USL squad expected to be stocked by players from the first team, players signed by Galaxy II and LA Galaxy Academy players. Players will be able to move back and forth between the MLS and USL PRO sides, and players from the Galaxy Academy will be available for the Galaxy II for training and on game days while retaining their amateur status.