On Monday, news broke that the USL-PRO would be adding a new club in 2014, right up I-35 from Dallas in Oklahoma City.
The announcement was made at a news conference in Oklahoma City. The franchise will be locally owned by Prodigal LLC, led by CEO Bob Funk Jr.
The USL-PRO league will be at 15 teams next year when Oklahoma City joins the league, Sacramento is also set to start up next year as well. But this all has some interesting thoughts for FC Dallas fans to ponder over as well.
USL-PRO - MLS Agreement
In 2013 USL PRO began a groundbreaking, multi-year partnership with MLS that has further elevated the quality and stature of USL PRO, strengthened the competition in both leagues, and established a solid foundation for future collaboration.
Four USL clubs - the Harrisburg City Islanders (Philadelphia Union), Orlando City (Sporting Kansas City), the Richmond Kickers (DC United), and the Rochester Rhinos (New England Revolution) - entered into formal affiliation agreements with MLS teams starting with the 2013 season.
Naturally there are teams like Dallas that are considering putting their own reserve team in the USL-PRO instead of doing a partnership with a club. But that may be a long-term solution as costs to run a second club could be a bit higher than what the Hunts may want to spend at the moment.
So, why not strike up a short-term deal with Oklahoma City instead? The agreement with the USL-PRO teams is that you can send up to five players on loan and recall them at any time. All four teams that are utilizing this agreement are seeing pretty good success so far out of it. Young players are getting playing time that they wouldn't normally get through the MLS reserve league.
Can you imagine seeing Bradlee Baladez, Victor Ulloa, Jesse Gonzalez and say a Bobby Warshaw getting more playing time with a lower division team like this in 2013? You have to think it would be a big deal for guys like that.
US Open Cup
The US Open Cup typically tries to keep bracket pairings as regionalized as possible. We've seen it in the past that FC Dallas typically gets grouped early on in the US Open Cup with some east coast teams. Last year it was with Charlotte and this year against Fort Lauderdale. This is largely due to the lack of teams west of the Mississippi River.
Now there is no guarantee that Dallas would get grouped early on with Oklahoma City but the possibility of not having to travel over a 1000 miles in the third round of the tournament is intriguing to me as I am sure it would be welcome to the players and coaches to potentially only have to go up I-35 for three hours.
Getting more teams west of the Mississippi River is huge for the growth of the game in this country and the growth of this tournament.
I love the idea of a pre-season tournament between Oklahoma City, San Antonio (NASL) and the Houston Dynamo. Something about getting those three teams together with FC Dallas just makes sense to me.
Not to mention, Oklahoma City would be a natural spot for a Reserve friendly or scrimmage during the season when there aren't any games and the team is looking to get minutes for players.