Let the partnership begin: On Thursday, Sporting Kansas City announced that it will send four players out on loan to the team's USL Pro affiliate, Orlando City SC.
The four players: Homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin, 2012 SuperDraft pick Dom Dwyer, international defender Yann Songo'o and this year's Supplemental Draft pick Christian Duke. The four players will report to Orlando immediately.
"We're excited about this partnership with Orlando because it not only gives us an opportunity to partner with a great organization, but more importantly it also gives us an opportunity for players who we think have real potential within our team to be able to go into an environment and play on a regular basis for a real competition," said Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes in a press release. "That's a big aspect of the growth of a player so that constant competitiveness is going to be huge for their development."
Sporting KC and Orlando entered into a two-year agreement earlier this year in conjunction with Major League Soccer and USL Pro's multi-year partnership.
Orlando opens its season on April 7.
None of the players sent on loan figured to have a major role with Kansas City this year. None will be guaranteed playing time with Orlando either.
In a team press release, Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath said: "We are bringing players in who all want to be on the first team. We think that they are going to come in and immediately compete. It’s game on for everybody."
Dwyer is one of several strikers on KC's roster and, when Jacob Peterson and Teal Bunbury return from injury, his playing time would be likely be limited. Fellow young striker Soony Saad has already shown earlier this year that he's higher on the pecking order making the 18-man roster and a substitute appearance for KC.
Also, as Tod Palmer
wrote this morning in The Star
, Dwyer's Generation adidas status allows Kansas City to let him develop without additional pressure.
Kempin, a young and still developing talent, needs to minutes to develop into the long-term backup for Jimmy Nielsen. Though, I'm not sure how many minutes he'll get backing up Orlando's veteran 'keeper and captain Miguel Gallardo. But it's likely better being the No. 2 in Orlando than No. 3 in Kansas City behind Nielsen and Eric Kronberg.
Songo'o and Duke are both players who need professional minutes to develop and will likely get a chance to earn them in Florida. I think Duke, especially given his athleticism and potential, could really shine with regular playing time at the USL Pro level.