St. Louis' nascent USL Pro club - set to be announced this afternoon - will be the USL club affiliated with the Chicago Fire in 2015, sources close to the new club told Hot Time. The club, which is so new as to not yet have a badge or announced name, is slated to begin play next spring. There is a press conference scheduled for today at noon in St. Louis; it is expected the club will announce the affiliation as well as other details - which is good, because at this point the website is fairly fact-light and the Twitter account hasn't said a peep.
The announcement has been widely teased by the Fire in the previous 24 hours, with the club's official twitter feed cheekily suggesting fans ‘stay tuned' for more news.
Yesterday we asked who you wanted to see #cf97 form a #USLPRO affiliation with. Results are in. Stay tuned... #MLS pic.twitter.com/7ByYEx6HAy— Chicago Fire (@ChicagoFire) April 30, 2014
If this agreement goes forward, it answers some questions about the Fire's plans for 2015. Every MLS club is required to either start an USL Pro club of their own, or affiliate with one, as a part of the league's player-development initiative. The startup costs associated with wholly owning a team seem to have red-lined that possibility, which left affiliation. Chicago is one of the last teams in the league without a formal affiliation, so today's announcement will check that box.
My question is, how does Fire nation like this move? There is some feeling of distaste toward St. Louis among Chicago sports fans, distaste that wouldn't have been an issue with potential affiliates like Minnesota or Milwaukee. On the other hand, CF97's player-development system is starting to get some traction; aligning with a new club means potentially having more say in the structure and setup, which could mean a more cohesive player-development partnership.
What say you, Fire supporters? St. Louis - is it "Hooray!" or "Meh," or "Ick?"