Both the Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes will be affiliated with USL Pro side Sacramento Republic, according to an announcement made in Northern California today. The details of the arrangement, which have been delayed for several weeks as the finer points were ironed out between the clubs, have revealed that each MLS team will send a minimum of two players on loan to Sacramento and will be able to recall them at any time. This affiliation with USL Pro means the Timbers will not have to be involved in the MLS Reserve League system, a system that has been criticized by owner Merritt Paulson.
"We couldn't be more excited to be before you today to announce a co-affiliation with the @SJEarthquakes & @TimbersFC." -Warren Smith— Sac Republic FC (@SacRepublicFC) January 23, 2014
While the Timbers have not yet indicated which players will be assigned to Sacramento, it is fair to suggest that younger players who need developing and playing time would be high on the list. Jake Gleeson looks like a worthy candidate, as does midfielder Steven Evans or potentially Alvas Powell. Portland is likely to have a much more experienced overall roster in 2014, however, so there will be fewer players like Sebastian Rincon or Dylan Tucker-Gangnes who featured in Reserve League games in the past. Draft picks like Schillo Tshuma could also be considered for loan, especially with the ability to recall at Caleb Porter's discretion. Presumably players would be able to be recalled and then returned on loan, as was the case with Sporting Kansas City and Orlando City attacker Dom Dwyer in 2013.
Gavin Wilkinson was quoted in the Republic's release, saying:
"We are pleased to form an affiliation with Sacramento Republic for 2014. This partnership allows us the ability to aid in the development of players by getting more consistent playing time in a competitive environment, while helping Republic FC strive for success on the field."
Portland currently has one player out on loan, with Jose Valencia spending the season with Club Olimpo in Argentina. Last season the Timbers sent Michael Nanchoff to Swedish second division side Jönköpings Södra for eleven games. In 2012, Bright Dike and Andrew Jean-Baptiste spent time at LA Blues of USL Pro.