Igor Juliao has enjoyed a quick rise within the Sporting Kansas City system — albeit with some bumps along the way — since joining the team on loan from Fluminense FC in April. On his 20th birthday last weekend, Juliao made his 16th consecutive Major League Soccer start.
More players of his caliber could soon be headed to Kansas City.
Sporting KC announced a formal partnership Friday with Brazilian club Fluminense FC that will include player loans, transfers and academy exchanges through the 2016 season. The two clubs will also share coaching philosophies, business practices and marketing strategies.
“They’re first-class people. They have a great vision,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “They’re a lot like us in that they’re trying to do very innovate things within the Brazilian league that haven’t been done before. We try to do a lot of that stuff, too. There’s a synergy there.”
As part of the partnership, Fluminense FC has agreed to loan at least one player to Sporting KC per season. It will also loan players to Sporting KC’s USL Pro affiliates.
“We’ll be able to send players down to Brazil to gain additional experience, and Fluminense will be able to do the same with us,” Vermes said.
Fluminense FC, which plays in Brazil’s top league, sent its under-23 squad to the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in February. Sporting KC appeared in the same preseason tournament. That offered Sporting KC the chance to scout Juliao for several matches, and the club acquired him on loan for the 2014 season.
Juliao’s progression within the Sporting KC system fueled a desire to extend the partnership.
“We continuously invested in our presence in the North American market over the last two years in search of a strategic partnership,” Fluminense FC president Peter Siemsen said in a release. “I believe our goals and communication are very well aligned. We could not be any more pleased with this association for our brand.”
The senior teams intend to schedule friendly matches during the partnership.
The agreement also will affect the academy systems. The two clubs plan to exchange academy players and coaching philosophies.
Fluminense FC has won the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A twice over the past five seasons.
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