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2019 USL Affiliation Between New England-Hartford Unlikely

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Expansion USL side Hartford Athletic begins play in 2019 but any official affiliation agreement between the two doesn’t appear to be in the works anymore.

MLS: Chicago Fire at New England Revolution Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Back in July there was a lot of buzz about the new Hartford USL team partnering with the New England Revolution as MLS/USL affiliates.

That no longer sees to be the case after both teams confirmed to The Bent Musket that no official agreement is being pursued at this time. A club spokesperson for Hartford Athletic gave TBM the following statement:

“We strive for strong relationships with all the clubs in our region as we look to grow the game and provide the highest level of play for our fans. We do not have a formal affiliation with any MLS club and are not currently pursuing one. We are in active conversations with many clubs regarding players and are always looking for a competitive advantage for our organization. Above all, we are Hartford’s club and are excited to bring professional soccer to the state.”

A Revs spokesperson did not comment beyond stating that the team had nothing to announce regarding Hartford at this time.

Obviously I am personally disappointed for this from a Revs stand point for a variety of reasons. New England has struggled recently to develop the back end of their roster and retain most of their draft picks for longer than one year. One of last year’s first round picks Mark Segbers made 19 appearances for USL side Orange County SC on loan but is currently off the Revs roster for next year. Homegrown Zach Herivaux made five appearances for San Antonio but has just ten MLS appearances totaling around 200 minutes as he enters his fifth pro season.

Without an official MLS affiliation, New England was one of just three MLS teams to not have some kind of USL partner in 2018. Eight MLS teams, including all four MLS Cup playoff conference finalists - Atlanta, NY Red Bulls, Sporting KC, and Portland - operate full USL 2/II teams in the league. Also, it would be far easier logistically to bet players from Foxborough to Hartford rather than Rochester (RIP), San Antonio or California.

Now, just because New England and Hartford aren’t going to have an official agreement doesn’t mean at this point there won’t be any loans there in 2019. It just means, for whatever reason, there isn’t an official partnership and/or agreement in place and nor is there likely to be one. I would love to get a chance to see homegrowns like Herivaux, Issac Angking, and newest addition Nicolas Firmino getting minutes in my home state along with the upcoming 2019 SuperDraft class and maybe I still will. But it is a bummer that New England appears to be continuing without any official USL support when so many other teams take advantage of such partnerships successfully.

Hartford Athletic is coached by former SKC keeper Jimmy Nielsen and will have their home opener Saturday May 4th after starting their debut USL season with two months of road games.