The San Jose Earthquakes, currently Sacramento Republic FC’s MLS affiliate, announced today that they have signed a two-year affiliation agreement with Reno 1868 FC, a Reno, Nevada based USL team set to start playing in 2017. The agreement is set to start next season and looks to be nearly identical to the one currently in place between the Houston Dynamo and Rio Grande Valley FC.
According to Earthquakes President Dave Kaval, the affiliation agreement would give the Quakes total control over the technical side of Reno 1868, something which he describes as “critical for our overall player development strategy.” That control means that the Quakes would be responsible for filling up Reno’s roster and coaching staff, presumably with players and coaches from their own talent pipeline.
So will we be seeing Adam Jahn and Tommy Thompson suiting up for Reno 1868 next season? It is definitely possible, if not downright certain. Jahn and Thompson are the two players that the Quakes have sent down to the Republic most often and it is likely that they will continue to do so with Reno next season.
While this decision is based heavily on the Quakes wanting more control over the soccer operations of their USL affiliate, it could also be due in part to the Republic’s obvious MLS aspirations. The Republic have never been an organization that is satisfied with just being in USL and have screamed repeatedly from the digital mountaintops that they are gunning for an MLS expansion slot. This move by the Quakes can be seen as one designed to set up a more permanent and stable affiliation just in case the Republic move on to the big leagues.
However, while that may be a part of the Quakes’ new affiliation, it is still mostly about control over their own talent pipeline. The relationship between the Republic and the Quakes was supposedly always a good one, but it never seemed to fulfill the needs of either party exactly right.
The Republic has always seemed to want loan players like Adam Jahn and Tommy Thompson to be on a long-term basis, while the Quakes were more interested in short-term loans. This new affiliation with Reno finally gives the Quake what they wanted all along: a USL team that plays whoever they want, whenever they want and is totally happy with it. And while it may mean that the Republic miss out on the talent of players like Jahn and Thompson, they are now truly an independent USL team and can focus fully on their own roster.
Who knows, we might even see more interaction between the Republic’s upstart academy program and the first team.
What do you think about the Republic losing the Quakes as USL affiliates? Want the Quails to find another MLS affiliate? Or are you happy to be independent? Sound off in the comments below.