COLLEGE PARK – Prince George’s County and the University of Maryland may become the new home of a second division semi-professional soccer team affiliated with a local Major League Soccer club.
The Washington Post reported on Dec. 15 that D.C. United has filed an application to field a team of their own in the United Soccer League (USL) starting in the 2017 season. If approved, the report states that Ludwig Field, located on the College Park campus, is on the shortlist to become a home venue for the team.
In response, Maryland officials said any conversations about using Ludwig Field for a semi-pro team are “premature,” as there have been no formal talks with United.
“We have spoken with some teams over the years to play some games there or becoming a tenant eventually,” Maryland Men’s Soccer Head Coach Sasho Cirovski said. “Right now, our focus in Maryland is to continue to upgrade Ludwig Field, so it is a good venue for our team and our women’s team and nobody else at this point.”
If United’s new team plays at Ludwig, it will become the second semi-professional sports team to call the county home in the past year. The PG Valor basketball team began its first season in the American Basketball Association this past November, playing their home games at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt.
Ludwig Field sits in the middle of Kehoe Track and Field Complex and is the current home of the Maryland men’s and women’s soccer teams during the fall semester. It has also hosted soccer camps and training sessions for United and the U.S. Men’s National Team.
“We have created Ludwig Field into the best game day environment in college soccer,” Cirovski said. “I am proud of the fact that within a community of so many athletic events and entertainment events, that we have been able to create a niche for soccer for the people in the area so they can come and enjoy a fun, attacking team and be entertained every time they come to Ludwig Field.”
The official capacity during the soccer season is listed at 7,000 as removable bleachers and seating are added on top of the track while the locker rooms are temporary trailers.
One of the concerns associated with accommodating United’s new team is addressing the demands of the university’s athletic schedule. Kehoe Track and Field Complex is also the home site for the school’s track teams during the spring semester. Seating capacity would be limited to 4,500 then, as the temporary stands are not available during the track season.
United would become the 12th MLS club to create a secondary team within the USL, who recently was granted provisional second division status by the U.S. Soccer Federation on Jan. 6.
Professional soccer clubs form secondary teams or have established affiliations with other USL squads to provide developmental support for youth players with more in-game experience. The semi-pro side would also allow veteran players who are returning from injury or lacking playing time a further opportunity to play games.
The other candidates include the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown (home of the Washington Spirit) and a proposed stadium/training grounds at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Another option would be using United’s proposed new stadium in Buzzard Point once it is constructed, according to the report. The new soccer stadium is scheduled to open in mid-2018.
D.C. United officials were unavailable to comment.
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