The Houston Dynamo have formed an affiliate partnership with the Charleston Battery of USL PRO, the clubs announced today.
The partnership will enable the Dynamo to loan approximately four MLS-contracted players to Charleston for the 2015 USL PRO season. Last season, the Dynamo loaned five players at various points of the season to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of USL PRO.
The Battery were founded in 1993 and play at Blackbaud Stadium, a 5,100-seat soccer-specific stadium that opened in 1999 as the first soccer-specific stadium built for a professional club in the U.S.
“We are pleased to announce our affiliation with the Charleston Battery for the 2015 season. They are one of the most respected clubs in USL with a proven track record of success and professionalism,” Dynamo vice president/general manager Matt Jordan said. “We feel this affiliation will provide our players the opportunity to grow in a quality environment with a staff that is very dedicated. This partnership will be a positive step forward for both clubs.”
The Battery are led by Michael Anhaeuser, who is entering his 11th season as Battery head coach. Anhaeuser won a national championship as a player at Indiana University before playing for the Battery for five seasons.
“We’ve had a great relationship with the Dynamo since their inception and have played them multiple times in preseason and in the U.S. Open Cup,” Battery president Andrew Bell said. “They do things the right way and have got a great management structure in place.”
Charleston has won five major titles: The 2012 USL PRO championship; the USL second division regular season and playoff titles in 2010; and USL A-League titles in 1996 and 2003. The Battery also reached the 2008 U.S. Open Cup final and the Open Cup semifinals in 1999 and 2004. Last year, the club finished in fifth place in the USL PRO regular season.
The Battery have hosted the Carolina Challenge Cup since 2004, an annual preseason tournament featuring MLS clubs. The Dynamo will participate in the tournament in 2015 for the third consecutive season and sixth time overall.
USL PRO is the third tier in the U.S. Soccer pyramid. The league will feature 23 clubs for the 2015 season, including expansion teams in Austin, Colorado Springs, Louisville, Montreal, Portland, Saint Louis, Salt Lake City, Seattle, Toronto, Tulsa and Vancouver.
Five of the last seven clubs to enter MLS have moved up from the USL’s top professional division. The Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, Montreal Impact, and Orlando City SC all operated franchises in the USL’s top professional division before making the transition to MLS.