The USL announced today that the Hartford Sports Group will own and operate Hartford Athletic for the 2019 season. New York Red Bulls II coach John Wolyniec is excited to see another potential rival close to home.
Wolyniec looking forward to another local rival in Hartford Athletic
“Anything that puts a little extra on the games,“, said Wolyniec this week. “For us, we put a lot of resources, a lot of money into this team and there’s a reason for it. We feel like the games are good and it helps develop players and when there’s a little extra on the game there’s more to get out of it and we’re happy to see games that we can get a lot out of and help out players develop. Whatever that means, whatever extra rivalry/local team or MLS rivalry, all that stuff, is a nice mix to put a little extra on the game and make sure our guys are ready to play and get to develop in playing in tough hard games.”
NYRBII’s chief rival during their first three seasons, the Rochester Rhinos, suspended operations this season. Tightly contested, and physical matches typified matches between the Rhinos and NYRBII, making for an entertaining match every time they met.
The intensity of the matches against the Rhinos is lacking against the next closest club to NYRBII, Bethlehem Steel FC. Hartford Athletic offers another chance to build a rivalry against a local team. Hartford could have connections to one of the New York Red Bulls rivals, New York City FC. While there has been no announcement, rumors continue to churn about NYCFC’s desires to field a USL team
Hartford is an ideal location for NYCFC if they wish to develop a partnership with a USL club. NYCFC would be able to keep young players close to home and offer them regular matches. Hartford Athletic’s stadium plans also hint at a possible partnership. NYCFC used Dillon Stadium in the past when displaced by the Yankees during a rescheduled match their in 2017.
“Hartford Athletic will play their home matches at Dillon Stadium in Hartford”, the USL announced Wednesday afternoon. “[Dillon Stadium] will be restored with funding provided by the State of Connecticut, through the Capital Region Development Authority, and in partnership with the City of Hartford.”
Hartford joins a growing list of new teams for USL in 2019. Next season, teams are planned for Austin, Memphis, El Paso, New Mexico, and Birmingham. USL has yet to announce how they will handle the nearly 40 teams for 2019. Expect conference reshuffling or a number of teams dropping down to the USL third division as a solution.
Photo by Bill Twomey Photography