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Minnesota United FC in advanced negotiations with Madison Pro Soccer as potential USL affiliate

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)

Minnesota United FC is in negotiations with Madison Pro Soccer on an agreement that would see the newly-founded professional team become the Loons’ United Soccer League affiliate for at least the 2019 season, sources told Pro Soccer USA.

In June, Madison Pro Soccer was announced as a member of the newly-founded USL Division III, set to begin play in 2019. That league has since rebranded itself as USL League One.

With the necessary pieces in place, leadership familiar with one another and the proximity of Madison, Wisc. to the Twin Cities (roughly 260 miles), the two parties have been working on the details of an affiliation agreement for some time. Discussions are now in an advanced state. 

Earlier this week, during an interview with the Star Tribune, MNUFC CEO Chris Wright confirmed his club would have an interim affiliation agreement with a USL team in 2019.

In April, a since-deleted job posting on Glassdoor.com sought a new COO for a USL expansion side and MLS affiliate. In what was perhaps a telling detail, the job requirements involved acting as a “liaison with baseball operations.”

In May, soccer executive Peter Wilt was hired by Big Top Events to bring a professional soccer team to Madison, In addition to its interest in soccer, Big Top Events owns and operates the Madison Mallards — a collegiate summer baseball team that plays in the Northwoods League.

Wilt brings with him extensive experience getting new professional teams up and running, having previously served as the Chicago Fire’s first president and general manager, the first CEO of the Women’s Premier Soccer League’s Chicago Red Stars and the first president of Indy Eleven, a North American Soccer League team at its founding and presently a member of the USL Championship.

Wilt was also involved with the Minnesota Thunder — a club that could be viewed as MNUFC’s predecessor. In a May 30 interview with Soccer America, Wilt referenced the connection, saying, “It went from Minnesota Thunder to Minnesota Stars to Minnesota United to Minnesota United FC in MLS. The new stadium is going to be great and Amos Magee is there, so it’s great that people I worked with in my Thunder days are still involved in the organization.”

Magee played for the Thunder during Wilt’s tenure in Minnesota and is now MNUFC’s director of player personnel.

Requests for comment from Minnesota United FC and Madison Pro Soccer had not been returned at time of publication.

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