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Forward Madison FC confirmed as Minnesota United FC’s USL affiliate

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota United FC officially announced a one-year affiliation with newly-founded USL League One side Forward Madison FC on Friday. Pro Soccer USA reported in September the two clubs were in advanced negotiations.

The affiliation will allow Minnesota to send players to Madison on loan with the option to recall players at any time. Additionally, the two clubs will share technical resources and scouting networks and play closed-door friendlies. They also are considering an exhibition match.

“We are excited to partner with a club like Madison, a club that has great ambition to build the sport of soccer,” MNUFC sporting director Manny Lagos said. “The proximity of our clubs allows us to share scouting and sporting resources, we can get our younger players meaningful minutes to develop and help players returning from injury. Madison has a staff that we know well and who supports our goals of growing soccer throughout our entire region.”

Regarding that familiarity, Madison’s managing director, Peter Wilt, has ties to Minnesota’s front office, having previously worked for the Minnesota Thunder — a club many consider part of the Loons’ lineage. Lagos and MNUFC director of player personnel Amos Magee both played for the Thunder, and Manny Lagos’ father, Buzz Lagos, served as head coach for all 16 years of the Thunder’s existence.

“This will be a mutually beneficial partnership that will help Forward Madison’s launch phase tremendously on and off the field,” said Wilt. “I’m excited to work again with Manny Lagos and Amos Magee. They are sharp soccer executives and have already assisted us greatly.”

Soccer executives Peter Wilt, center, and Jack Cummins, right, rally soccer fans gathered at The Globe Pub on Irving Park Road in Chicago on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, to hear a presentation about starting a North American Soccer League team in Chicago. (Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune)

For Minnesota, heading into its third MLS season, finding a USL affiliate and a means of providing competitive minutes for players not receiving them in MLS is overdue. However, given Madison’s proximity to the Twin Cities and its familiarity with Wilt, MNUFC’s new partnership looks like an excellent fit.

“Having this opportunity to work with Minnesota both on and off of the field is a huge benefit for our organization,” said Forward Madison coach Daryl Shore. “I am really looking forward to working with Adrian Heath and his technical staff as we look to develop players as well as be in the hunt to win trophies. Both Adrian and I have worked at both levels so I think we understand the importance of this relationship on both sides.” I am also excited to work with Manny and Amos, two guys again, who have worked at both levels of soccer and understand the importance of this relationship.”

Founded on May 17, Forward Madison became the first professional soccer team to call Wisconsin’s capital its home. The club will play its inaugural season in the Spring of 2019, calling Breese Stevens Field its home. Located eight blocks away from the Wisconsin State Capitol, and opened in 1926, Breese Stevens contains the oldest surviving masonry grandstand in Wisconsin.

Forward Madison is owned by Big Top Soccer, a sister organization to Big Top Baseball. The latter owns and operates the Madison Mallards of the amateur Northwoods League — a collegiate wood-bat summer league.

In addition to Madison, Big Top Soccer has also launched a USL League Two team in Ashwaubenon, Wis., just outside of Green Bay. Dannon Anderson was named the Green Bay club’s first general manager, and as it did for Madison, Big Top is currently soliciting suggestions from the surrounding community for the club’s name.

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