November 20 – Fresno FC, who debut in the second tier USL in 2018, have become the official affiliate of Major League Soccer’s Canadian franchise Vancouver Whitecaps.
Fresno appointed former Canadian national coach Frank Yallop as its general manager earlier this year, and last week appointed Adam Smith as head caoch.
Whitecaps will be able to assign players to USL contracts to play at the California club, while all players on the roster will be monitored and evaluated with a view to moving up to the MLS. There is no promotion or relegation for clubs between the leagues.
“It’s an exciting time for pro soccer in Fresno, and to have a direct link to MLS with Whitecaps FC will be significant in elevating the sport in the Valley,” said Fresno owner Ray Beshoff.
Last week the USL announced three expansion teams for the 2018 season. North Carolina FC are exiting the under pressure North American Soccer League (NASL) to join the USL alongside a reserve team from MLS club Atlanta United, and Penn FC. Las Vegas Lights and Nashville SC will also be new additions to the expanded 35 team league for 2018.
Vancouver will become the eighth MLS teams to have a link to a team in the USL, though the other seven operate what are more traditional second team structures playing as the club second teams in the league.
“With both the USL and Canadian soccer landscapes evolving, now is the right time to make this change for our club,” said Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. “We are delighted to be working with Fresno FC, where the USL will provide the opportunity for high-level competition that will benefit our first team in MLS in the future. We expect that the internal competition for playing time at Fresno FC will provide a tremendous and challenging environment for our top young players.”
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