Milwaukee-Chicago Connection Only Makes Sense for Chicago Fire’s USL-PRO Partnership

Marquette Univserity vs University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Photo via

The Milwaukee Derby:  Marquette plays UWM (photo:

Chicago Fire discuss where their USL partnership will be, but OTF’s Brian Battle asks, “What’s there to discuss?”

Chicago Fire needs to choose a USL-PRO partnership by 2015, and the list of potential locations remains an odd mix with one obvious choice.

The blog lists Cincinnati, Orange County, Tulsa, Charlotte, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Cleveland, as well as clubs in Colorado and Arizona, as potential lower-division partners. But why would you set up an affiliation at such distance from Toyota Park? More realistic options include Milwaukee, Des Moines, and St. Louis, with Milwaukee the clear stand-out on the list.

Why would the franchise even consider having their affiliate club more than a few hours away from Chicago? If you look at the smart MLS franchises, they keep their “farm” teams nearby (doing so can only help in your local influence), or engage with an affiliate in a region that is a prime secondary market.

Existing USL-MLS Relationships
  • LA Galaxy II — LA Galaxy (0 Miles)
  • Dayton Dutch Lions — Columbus Crew (71 miles)
  • Harrisburg City Islanders — Philadelphia Union (117 miles)
  • Richmond Kickers — D.C. United (119 miles)
  • Oklahoma City Energy — Sporting KC (349 miles)
  • Rochester Rhinos — New England Revolution (421 miles)
  • Sacramento Republic FC — Portland Timbers & San Jose Earthquakes (579 miles, 120 miles)
  • Wilmington Hammerheads — Toronto FC (862 miles)
  • *Orlando City SC — Sporting KC (1,237 miles)
  • Pittsburgh Riverhounds — Houston Dynamo (1,338 miles)
  • Charleston Battery — Vancouver Whitecaps (3,072 miles)

*Will terminate with Orlando City’s 2015 entry into MLS.

If an MLS franchisee winds up owning a USL side (or develops a meaningful affiliation with one) why would he not want to keep it within a reasonable radius of the mother club?

In addition to being an hour and a half away from Chicago, and easily accessible by rail (which means it’s arguably easier to get to than Toyota Park in some transportation cases), Milwaukee is a clear secondary market for Chicago Fire (HTIOT made a similar point in November).

Combine that with the team’s recent connections with Marquette Soccer and why would it consider pursuing a relationship with a team as far west (and in the Galaxy’s wheel house) as Orange County?

Oh, btw, here’s how the voting worked out on Chicago Fire’s website…

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 9.59.49 AM

43.56 percent can’t be wrong

So, in the face of obviousness, what do you think the “Front Office” decision will be?  Clearly there are fiscal stakes here as well, but on location alone, the option is clear.

The question remains, though: which F.O. do we expect to weigh in on this decision? Will it be the “new” front office that makes sound player personnel swaps, budget decisions and PR moves, or the “old” front office relic that staunchly apposes popular sentiment like Sector Latino’s sovereignty and kit design decisions?

We’ll find out soon enough.


Follow OTF Soccer on Twitter @OTFSoccer


OTF Contributor Brian Howe Battle is a Chicago local, burgeoning cynic, and soccer nOOb. You can find his other soccer musings at the Owen Goal blog. Follow Brian on Twitter at @OwenGoal.

6 thoughts on “Milwaukee-Chicago Connection Only Makes Sense for Chicago Fire’s USL-PRO Partnership

  1. I think St. Louis has MLS or NASL aspirations and is approximately 300 miles from Chicago. Milwaukee is a fine choice, given the case you’ve put forth. Madison might be a good choice too.

  2. Milwaukee or Madison would be excellent choices, far enough out to expand the footprint, close enough for fans to go watch up-and-comers. My cynic-brain, however, thinks that a question to consider is, Where do team officials want to visit on team business more, the upper Midwest or Southern Cal?

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