Eagles Host Chicago Fire Reserves on Friday, June 14
(Charlotte Eagles Communications Director Andrew Pierce sat down with Eagles General Manager Tom Engstrom to discuss the Major League Soccer-USL PRO Partnership. The Eagles host the Chicago Fire Reserves on Friday, June 14 at 7 p.m. at the Queens Sports Complex).
Andrew Pierce: On January 23, 2013 Major League Soccer and USL PRO announced a groundbreaking, multi-year partnership that will enhance the development of professional players in North America, strengthen the competition in both leagues, and establish a solid foundation for future collaboration. Tom, tell us some of the specifics of the partnership?
Tom Engstrom: I would point to two main things for the 2013 season. One is the two league games that each USL PRO team will play against a MLS Reserve team. These games count for the USL PRO team in the USL PRO standings and for the MLS Reserve team in the MLS Reserve standings. Each MLS team has a roster size of about 30 players. If an MLS team has a game on Saturday, generally 12-14 players on the roster will play. The MLS Reserve League gives the MLS players who didn’t play on Saturday a chance to play a full game usually a day or two later. The Reserve games keep the players fit and sharp.
The second thing I would point to is the formal affiliations that four MLS teams have with USL PRO teams. MLS teams have the opportunity to establish a formal affiliation with a USL PRO club. Those affiliations provide the opportunity for the MLS team to loan players to the USL PRO club. The MLS teams with affiliation agreements do not participate in the MLS Reserve League.
AP: So what you are saying is that there will be a number of MLS players playing against the Eagles this year.
TE: That is true. For example, Dom Dwyer scored against us for Orlando (on loan from Sporting KC) in the 1-1 tie earlier in the year. We also played against a number of MLS players who were on loan to Richmond, Rochester and Harrisburg. Obviously when we play the Chicago Fire Reserves next Friday there will be a number of MLS players playing here in Charlotte!
AP: What can we expect from the Chicago Fire Reserve team?
TE: Most of the players will be younger players that are fighting for more playing time. Generally a couple of players will be starters that may be coming back from an injury. For example, Pablo Mastroeni, who was a key player for the U.S. National Team during the 2002 World Cup Quarterfinal run, played some minutes for the Colorado Rapids Reserves against Harrisburg earlier this year. He was trying to regain fitness after an injury. Then a couple of players are generally younger players from their Academy System or perhaps a player that is trying out for the team.
AP: How have the MLS Reserve-USL PRO games gone so far?
TE: They have been good games. I think USL PRO has won four games, MLS Reserves three games and there have been five ties. It is funny, on one hand I want the USL PRO teams to do well because it gives credibility to our league. On the other hand, I want the USL PRO teams to lose because we are battling them in the standings!
AP: Are the Eagles players looking forward to next Friday, June 14?
TE: I think it goes without saying the players enjoy competing against the best and to see how they stack up. We also play the Chicago Fire Reserves at Toyota Park in Chicago on June 29. I am sure they will look forward to that as well.
Thanks again to Tom Engstrom for sitting down and explaining the MLS-USL PRO Partnership with us.
Keep that Orange Flag Flying High and we’ll see you on Friday, June 14th at beautiful Queens Sports Complex!