Soccer's priority is Loudoun clear

Cheers and Jeers,Sports,Craig Stouffer

There was once a movement to relocate D.C. United to Loudoun County. Instead, it's going to have its own soccer team.

The North American Soccer League, a level below Major League Soccer, will announce an expansion franchise based at the One Loudoun development in Ashburn next week. It will be owned by Virginia Investment Partnership LLC, which also plans to run the Loudoun Hounds, a baseball team that is part of the Atlantic League. Both will share a planned stadium with 5,500 permanent seats and capacity of up to 10,000 spectators. Both teams are scheduled to start playing there in 2014.

The move isn't about siphoning fans from D.C. United. It's a step toward a more thorough tiered system in the United States, one in which players can move up and down as in baseball and hockey. D.C. United will benefit from having a place where it can send its youngest players to develop.

With United also working toward its own new stadium in the District, the question could be which franchise -- the Ashburn soccer team does not have a name yet -- will get its facility first?

- Craig Stouffer

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