Wilmington, NC (HAMMERHEADS) -– Wilmington Hammerheads FC announced today that they have formed an affiliate partnership with Toronto FC of Major League Soccer. As the official USL PRO affiliate of Toronto FC, the Hammerheads will receive a minimum of four MLS-contracted players for the 2014 USL PRO regular season.
“The affiliation announcement with Toronto FC is a monumental day for Wilmington Hammerheads FC and the city of Wilmington,” said Jason Arnold, Wilmington Hammerheads FC General Manager. “Having an exclusive affiliation with a Major League Soccer club will impact our club in such a positive way and bring new opportunities to us both on and off the field. Toronto FC is forging ahead with ground breaking signings and business affiliations and we are proud to be a partner of theirs at this exciting time.”
Business practices will be shared between the two clubs and Toronto FC will have an open door policy in Wilmington that will allow coaches to be present at matches and training sessions for observation.
The Hammerheads will be present during Toronto FC’s preseason in Florida next month to get a first look at their procedures while working together on building two successful clubs.
“We are very excited to partner with Wilmington Hammerheads FC and continue to enhance the development of professional footballers in North America,” said Toronto General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “The deal represents the first time our club has established a full development trajectory for our Academy players from the U12 level up through the first team. On the first team it can be a challenge getting younger players sufficient match experience required for their development during the course of a season. This partnership with Wilmington will allow our players to earn those valuable match minutes and continue their growth during the season in a professional environment in USL PRO. Today we have filled a developmental gap within our club.”
In January 2013, MLS and USL PRO announced a multi-year partnership that will enhance the development of professional players in North America while establishing a foundation for future collaboration among teams.
The complete list of players joining the Hammerheads on loan from Toronto FC will be announced at a later date.
The Hammerheads will be holding an Open House on Wednesday, January 29 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. for fans and supporters at their new office in downtown Wilmington. There will be a ceremonial ribbon cutting that afternoon at 3:00 p.m. to inaugurate the new Wilmington Hammerheads FC location at 108 Grace Street. The ribbon cutting event is for media and invitees only.