December 19, 2012 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - D.C. United
Washington, D.C. (December 19, 2012) - D.C. United and Freestate Soccer Alliance - in conjunction with adidas - today announced a historic affiliate agreement, the first of its kind for both clubs. Under the agreement, Freestate will be one of D.C. United's primary sources in identifying and developing the top youth talent in Maryland. United will share its coaching resources and will work with Freestate to follow its training curriculum and system of play. Top players in the Freestate system, identified by both D.C. United and Freestate, will have the opportunity to join the D.C. United Academy teams, with a strong priority being placed on the Under-14, Under-16 and Under-18 age groups.
"Developing players to higher levels and preparing them for first-team action is the priority of our Academy," said Sonny Silooy, D.C. United's Director of Youth Development. "Our vision, which is shared by Freestate and several other local clubs in the region, is to connect the technical side and work together and bring players to their highest potential. Freestate does a great job a building a strong foundation for a player and, as an MLS club, we are able to provide even more opportunities for the right players."
"As the landscape of youth soccer takes another shift, Freestate Soccer Alliance is excited to join D.C. United as its first Affiliate Club," said Patrick Noel, Technical Director at Freestate Soccer Alliance. "As a fan of D.C. United's first team, it's great to connect with the club in order to identify players who could one day play for the first team. We also expect that this initiative will help to bolster our U-6 through U-10 programs and yield stronger pools of players down the road. Finally, this partnership is more than just about selling tickets and uniforms. Coaching education opportunities and other shared resources will help to further our club's mission to offer the best possible youth soccer experience to our players."
In addition to the player identification and development part of the affiliate agreement, Freestate will be outfitted with D.C. United and adidas-branded training gear, uniforms and coaching gear, and will receive special D.C. United ticketing opportunities for players and their families.
"The United States has some of the best athletic talent in the world, and it's our goal to provide homegrown athletes with opportunities to play elite soccer," said Antonio Zea, Director of Soccer for adidas America. "With our recent extension of the Major League Soccer contract, we have put the importance of youth development at a premium and are excited about helping create Youth Club Alliances with local MLS clubs. This partnership between Freestate Soccer Alliance, D.C. United and adidas will prove to be a great step in developing the next generation of American soccer icons."
"This initial affiliate agreement marks the first youth club partnership for United that addresses the varied touch points for our organization with youth soccer," said Doug Hicks, Senior Vice President of Marketing Communications. "We're excited about the future of this relationship, as well as connecting with several other local clubs, through similar agreements, in advance of the 2013 MLS campaign."