Friday, December 20, 2013

Dayton Added as Crew Affiliate

The Columbus Crew announced yesterday that the Dayton Dutch Lions will now be an affiliate.

What this means is that the Crew will send at least four players to Dayton to play on their team during the upcoming 2014 USL Pro season (more on that in a minute).

This MLS / USL Pro relationship is only about a year old now so any activity between teams will be forging new trails. The Sporting KC / Orlando City relationship this past year was easily the most notable (and even a little contentious), but several teams have worked a deal:

Philadelphia Union / Harrisburg City Islanders
DC United / Richmond Kickers
New England Revs / Rochester Rhinos
Houston Dynamo / Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Sporting KC / Oklahoma Energy (+Orlando City for one more year)
Columbus Crew / Dayton Dutch Lions

MLS seems to be setting up something out of the MLB playbook and their minor league System. MLS wants all teams to affiliate or field a team (Reserve or U-23) in the USL Pro division by the end of 2015. MLS has also made it clear that they want to expand their footprint and market reach by doing this.


My personal preference would have been that the Crew field a full reserve team in the USL Pro division and let Dayton grow on their own, independently.

Players down the bench for the Crew could really benefit from playing a regular schedule in a competitive league. You would also get to pepper the reserve roster with trialists (a luxury they now lose).

The argument against this is the same as it always is; Cost. But MLS, as a whole, plays that card too often. An investment in players is just that... an INVESTMENT. It will pay off over time because Ohio is rich with players and coaches.

The team could also charge 5-10 bucks for home games at Crew stadium that have minimal staff and make a few dollars off that. Hold bake sales, set up a Kickstarter campaign. I don't care. Get it going. The sale of just one player could fund your reserve team for years.

Another way a MLS team could take advantage of this to get coaches experience, try different tactics, try Josh Williams as a central mid, go crazy. It would be your team.


I've said it a number of times this year; My favorite soccer events of the past year have been in Dayton watching the Lions. I was at the early Charleston Battery match, the USOC match against Deerborn Stars (a surreal match) and the Crew reserve match (which was fantastic).

Dayton, in just a few short years, were a growing team in a sports mad state. Not just in recognition but in competition as well. They had already knocked out the Crew in the USOC in 2012, tied them in a wild 4-4 game at Beavercreek HS, and almost beat them again in the 2013 USOC. In the USL they were also making ground as well by making the playoffs last year for the first time.

This connection with the Crew ties them to the top division in the US and Canada as well as the affiliation they have already with FC Twente in Holland. It's really a couple big steps forward for the young club. If the Crew were going to associate with any team I'm glad that it is the Dayton Dutch Lions.

My hope is that, even with this affiliation, they are able to keep their independence from Major League Soccer in the years to come. I do not want this to be a big brother / little brother situation, 'cause...




I wrote a good bit about the Dayton Dutch Lions this past year for Massive Report, here is some of that:

GHOST RESULTS, A look at MLS Reserves and how they did in the USL Pro division.

US OPEN CUP 3rd Round Preview, Columbus vs Dayton

US Open Cup: Dutch Lions Rd 2 Win, Will Face Crew

From last year, here is my post from went the Lions beat the Crew in the US Open Cup back in 2013:
Twente Dutch Lions (2) v Crew (1), Explained

Finally, the best for last...

Infiltrating the Orange Beast (by Rick Gethin)

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