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All Things NYCFC

by Marissa Blackman

If you pay any attention to the Hammerheads, you must have heard the news already. It was even on the local 12:00 news.

WILMINGTON HAMMERHEADS FC IS OFFICIALLY AFFILIATED WITH NEW YORK CITY FC!!!

This means a lot, but one thing keeps flashing through my mind. If the Hammerheads host a friendly with its new affiliate, big name players like David Villa, Mix, Diskerud, etc. could be in Legion Stadium.

I'm pretty hyped about this news, and I've spent way more time than I should have on the NYCFC website. Here's a little bit of basic information about the club:

Jason Kries, the former Real Salt Lake coach who almost won the MLS cup not too many years ago, is the Head Coach. The club is owned by the New York Yankees and Manchester City FC, and will play home games in Yankee Stadium. Former USMNT midfielder Claudio Reyna is the Director of Football. While there are several unofficial supporter groups for the club, the official one is called The Third Rail.

As far as I can see, this affiliation will serve a two-fold purpose:
1. Sharing players
2. Sharing knowledge

Of course, affiliation between MLS and USL PRO teams allows MLS players to get in-game experience that they would otherwise lack, making them better able to help their MLS team at the end of their loan.

A second benefit of this affiliation agreement is the "open door policy" between the coaching staff of the two clubs. Coaches on both sides will be communicating with each other and sharing knowledge, which can only result in more insight for everyone involved. There is a wealth of knowledge to be shared between these experienced coaches.

The big question now is: Which NYCFC players will be sent to Wilmington? I have no idea, but I certainly will speculate! Although NYCFC is affiliated with eight New York area youth clubs, it does not have a youth academy of its own yet. The club currently has 18 player (including 5 midfielders, 5 defenders, 5 forwards, and 3 goal keepers), several of whom are currently on loan already.

All of this leads me to the possibly wrong conclusion that loans are probably going to come from the players who have just been acquired in the MLS SuperDraft. Khiry Shelton and Connor Brandt are the two that NYCFC have drafted so far, and there is still an upcoming draft. Shelton is from Oregon State University, and has had experience with the Portland Timbers U-23s and USMNT U-18s. Brandt is from the Universtiy of San Diego. Both Shelton and Brandt have received player of the year awards during their collegiate careers.

Now I know there's a question that's probably burning on some of your minds, and I can't just ignore it. What about Lampardgate? My answer: What about it? No matter what happens, I can assure you Frank Lampard won't be loaned to Wilmington Hammerheads FC. (I'd be ecstatic if that happened, but it's beyond highly unlikely.) Hence, his contract and whereabouts have no relevance to the Hammerheads. I'll admit I am a huge fan of Lampard, so maybe my next statement is slightly biased. Frank Lampard simply doesn't strike me as the type of player, or person for that matter, to flat out lie. He has stated that he's coming to New York after the end of the Premier League season, and frankly (pun completely intended) I believe him. The only way it could possibly affect the Hammerheads is if there is some kind of friendly with NYCFC before the end of the Premier League season. Lampard obviously wouldn't be there. That would be disappointing, but...oh well.

If you ask me affiliation is a great thing, and the Hammerheads have picked an excellent team to affiliate with. It's going to be very exciting to see what happens this season and how possible NYCFC loans my contribute to the Hammerheads. Now, if only preseason was over already.

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