D.C. United loaned four young players Tuesday to its third-tier affiliate as part of MLS’s new agreement with the USL Pro division. However, only two will join the Richmond Kickers full-time. The others will shuttle up and down I-95.
Left back Taylor Kemp, United’s first-round draft choice from the University of Maryland, and midfielder Conor Shanosky will spend the season with the Kickers, whose 26-game schedule begins April 6.
Forwards Casey Townsend, a second-year pro from Maryland, and Michael Seaton, a 16-year-old homegrown signing this past winter, will split time between the clubs.
Townsend will train with United three days per week, primarily to work with assistant coach Josh Wolff, a recently retired MLS and U.S. national team forward. He will report to Richmond for late-week practices and games.
Because of his age and educational commitments, Seaton will practice with United and live at home during the week and join the Kickers for most, if not all, games.
Kemp, Shanosky and Townsend are with the Kickers this week. Shanosky, 21, spent the 2012 season on loan with the second-division Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
“This is an excellent opportunity for our young players to compete and play on a regular basis in meaningful games,” General Manager Dave Kasper said. “There is no substitute for first-team games that matter, and we believe the Kickers will provide a platform and environment for United players to quickly develop as professionals.”
United has the option of sending other players to Richmond periodically for game experience. As part of the MLS-USL agreement, which was embraced by four MLS teams, United will not participate in the reserve division this year.
USL Pro also includes the Antigua Barracuda, Charleston Battery, Charlotte Eagles, Dayton Dutch Lions, Harrisburg City Islanders, Los Angeles Blues, Orlando City, Phoenix Wolves, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Rochester Rhinos, VSI Tampa Bay FC and Wilmington Hammerheads.