Members of the New England Revolution front office are assessing their partnerships with the Rochester Rhinos (USL) and Sporting CP (POR), according to club president Brian Bilello.
The Revs began their affiliation with the Rhinos in 2013, a move that seemed full of potential. Not much has come of it, however, as most loanees have been released by the Revolution after one season.
This year marked a low point in the relationship between the two clubs, as the Revs didn't send anyone to the Rhinos for a long-term loan. In fact, only Michael Gamble, Jordan McCrary, and Donnie Smith spent time with Rochester, the first of which was waived before the season's end.
When asked to assess the effectiveness of their affiliation with the Rhinos, Bilello cited distance as a difficult hurdle to overcome.
"We have tried to get value out of the USL partnership but it can be difficult given the distance," Bilello said. "Many times we feel that it is more beneficial to keep our guys here, training with the first team rather than having them somewhere else.
Bilello was also asked about the club's relationship with Sporting CP. The partnership has created some opportunities for the Revs since being announced in 2014. For example, Zachary Herivuax, Donnie Smith, and Sean Okoli spent three weeks training in Portugal before the 2016 season. The Revs also got defender Samba on loan, though he was rarely used before being released.
When asked to assess the relationship, Bilello expressed optimism.
"We hope to continue to grow it," Bilello commented." I had breakfast with Bruno [de Carvalho], their President, this fall when he was visiting the area and we spoke about how to grow the partnership. We'll be looking to collaborate more on the youth side this season for sure. Still TBD on the first team player side but the desire is still there from both clubs."