December 20, 2013 - United Soccer League (USL) - OKC Energy FC
Oklahoma City - OKC Energy FC today announced the team will serve as an affiliate for Major League Soccer's current MLS Cup champion, Sporting Kansas City.
"We are pleased to affiliate with Sporting KC during our first season of play," said Prodigal CEO Bob Funk Jr. "Our partnership with them in this endeavor is groundbreaking. This relationship starts with Jimmy Nielsen as our head coach and number of quality players that Sporting KC will provide, but also extends beyond the field of play and into all of our soccer business interests for the long term."
As part of the agreement, Sporting KC will provide a number of players for OKC Energy FC's roster. The development of those players falls under the responsibility of the head coach, former Sporting KC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
Sporting KC recently claimed the MLS Cup by defeating Real Salt Lake in a dramatic shootout at Sporting Park. The game, played in temperatures below freezing was the most watched MLS broadcast on ESPN during 2013.
"Oklahoma City provides us with a great regional partner and having Jimmy Nielsen as the head coach will give us strong insight into player development," Sporting KC Manager Peter Vermes said. "We will continue to have our wonderful relationship with Orlando City SC and adding Oklahoma City to next year's plan perfectly aligns us with our goal of keeping players active and ready to integrate back with our first team to contribute in all of the competitions we will play in 2014."
USL PRO's Orlando City SC will also serve as an affiliate for Sporting KC for the 2014 season, completing the second year of a two-year partnership. Sporting Kansas City loaned six players to Orlando City during the 2013 season, including forward Dom Dwyer who set the USL PRO scoring record with 15 goals in 13 games and captured the USL PRO championship MVP with four goals in the league final. Orlando City SC was awarded an MLS expansion team last month and will join Major League Soccer as the 21st club for the 2015 season.
Sporting Kansas City was among the 10 charter franchises introduced by Major League Soccer in the summer of 1995. Formerly known as the Wizards, the franchise has flourished in Kansas City and has become one of the most respected professional franchises in North America. The two-time MLS Cup champs and two-time Lamar Hunt U.S. Open champs have been home to names such as Preki, Mo Johnston, Tony Meola, Alexi Lalas and the Energy's current head coach Jimmy Nielsen.
USL PRO is the strongest, best operated and most experienced North American men's professional soccer league outside of Major League Soccer (MLS). Focused on franchise stability and longevity, USL PRO features 15 teams for the 2014 season, including expansion teams in Oklahoma City and Sacramento. Presently six USL PRO teams have direct affiliations with Major League Soccer clubs.
The league not only serves as a springboard to the MLS for players, but also for franchises. Five of the last six clubs to enter MLS have moved up from the USL's top professional division. Among the most successful clubs, the Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Montreal Impact all operated franchises in the USL's top professional division before making the transition to MLS.
Soccer fans also have the opportunity to place a deposit for ticket packages by calling the OKC Energy FC office at 405-235- KICK (5425).
Prodigal LLC is a full service event management company based in Oklahoma City. Prodigal operates the Oklahoma City
Barons professional hockey team, co-promotes Professional Bull Riders (PBR) events in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, operates the
Ram National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR), serves as the co-organizer for the March of Dimes Sports Headliner Banquet and
produces the Bricktown 4th Fest.