image via charlestonbattery.com
A partnership between USL’s Charleston Battery and MLS expansion team Atlanta United FC was announced Friday. As reported on USLSoccer.com, the partnership gives the Atlanta club an opportunity to test prospective players at Charleston for a full year before the club enters its first season of competition in 2017.
While the clubs are only a four and a half hour drive away from each other, its interesting to note that Nashville is a full hour closer to Atlanta and lacks a USL franchise. NPSL’s Nashville FC have stated their aspirations to move into NASL play, and USL’s Harrisburg City Islanders have targeted Nashville as a potential new home if they’re unable to get the funds to build a new stadium, but currently Nashville sits as one of the last under-served markets in the professional soccer landscape. If the talks of partnership between Charleston and Atlanta have been going on for some time, it seems that Atlanta could have helped move the Islanders franchise to Nashville or helped encourage Nashville FC to enter USL as an affiliate instead of NASL.
The Charleston-Atlanta partnership is a great option for both parties for now, but the Atlanta front office must see the opportunity to develop an affiliate franchise in Nashville, firmly taking the market out of the hands of NASL and planting their flag in one of the last major markets without a tier 1-3 professional team.