Currently, NYCFC have a dilemma on their hands regarding their youth development pipeline. Their USL affiliate, the Wilmington Hammerheads, has dropped down from the USL to the Premier Development League (PDL). This leaves NYCFC to figure out what they are going to do with regard to their USL affiliate. Even though NYCFC haven’t utilized their USL affiliate at all this year, it will be important in the future.
NYCFC’s USL Affiliate Dilemma
Find a New Affiliate Team
NYCFC have two options, one of which is to make a different USL team their affiliate. The current USL teams without an affiliate are FC Cincinnati, Harrisburg City Islanders, Louisville City FC, Arizona United SC, Colorado Switchbacks SC, Orange County Blues FC, San Antonio FC, and Tulsa Roughnecks FC. FC Cincinnati would be a great option but they are most likely headed to MLS. Louisville City FC would not be as good an option as FC Cincinnati, but they are still most likely heading to MLS. All the other teams are to far away from New York, except Harrisburg City Islanders.
The Islanders have been around since 2003 and have been an MLS affiliate in the past. They were the Philadelphia Union affiliate from 2010-2015. As they have already been an affiliate, it would not be too difficult for them to do that again.
If NYCFC were to have a USL affiliate, Harrisburg City Islanders would be the best option. However, creating their own USL team would be more beneficence.
Create a USL Team
Long term, this is the best option for player development. The teams with the best academy systems integrate their USL team’s into their academy to help develop homegrown players and draft picks. Also, Patrick Vieira is no stranger to second teams, as he managed Manchester City FC’s reserve team. Also, this could help NYCFC seamlessly transfer players and styles from U-12 all the way up to the first team.
If NYCFC were to create a USL team, they could play at Saint Johns University, where the academy plays, or play in another stadium. Eventually, everyone would play in the stadium that will be built for the first team. With a team in the Metro area, that would mean their first team, USL, academy and PDL team are all within an hour of each other.
This would significantly improve their academy and help it become one of the best in the league.
What NYCFC Should Do
NYCFC would make a big mistake by signing another affiliate. While it may help them in the short run to have an affiliate, having their own USL team would improve their academy tremendously. One option to help NYCFC would be to purchase an existing USL team and move them to New York. However, this would upset the fans and create unnecessary tension. They could also purchase an existing team and re-brand them, or leave their name the same, in order to have their own USL team, but it their control.