The newly extended affiliation agreement between the Richmond Kickers and D.C. United saw Kickers Head Coach Leigh Cowlishaw travel to Sarasota, Florida this week to join D.C. United’s preseason training camp. Over the 10 day period, Cowlishaw has been involved with practice sessions and exhibition games, while observing training methodologies and best practices and evaluating potential players who may see playing time on loan in Richmond this season.
“Observing the training camp has been great,” commented Cowlishaw. "It is a continuation of last season and we better understand the process as we move into our second year of the affiliation. We were able to accomplish our on-field objectives last year while providing many D.C. United players meaningful minutes in a professional environment.”
Separated by a little over 100 miles, the two organizations worked closely to organize loan spells for nearly 20 years before officially affiliating prior to the 2013 season. As a part of the inaugural agreement, six players featured for the Kickers during the club’s 2013 Regular Season Championship run, with 2013 USL PRO Goalkeeper of the Year Andrew Dykstra, Taylor Kemp, Collin Martin, Michael Seaton, Conor Shanosky and Casey Townsend combining for 5,553 minutes while contributing nine goals and two assists on the season.
Through the extended arrangement with the Kickers, United will once again send a minimum of four first-team players – to be announced at a later date – on long-term loans to Richmond.
“Although we have had ongoing discussions regarding potential loan players we do not expect the final decision to be made until early March,” continued Cowlishaw. “Logically, younger players are the prime candidates to be on the Kickers. Last year, both sides felt positive about the amount of playing time the six loanees received and how beneficial it was for their overall development.”
D.C. United’s 15-day training camp included preseason games against Toronto FC and Chicago Fire. Cowlishaw will observe the final scrimmage against Chicago on Wednesday, February 12 before returning to Richmond to prepare for the Kickers’ preseason, which officially kicks off with a match against George Mason University on February 22.