West Ham United have announced a ground-breaking agreement with United Soccer Leagues (USL).
United Soccer Leagues provides the second and third division of professional soccer in the United States, as well as Under-23, Under-20, youth and women's leagues with clubs across the United States, Canada and Caribbean.
The partnership entails a number of player identification, player exchange, coaching and club development initiatives. Future initiatives include a West Ham United USA youth academy and professional franchise competing within the USL system to provide North, Central and South American players a corridor to Europe.
West Ham United Deputy CEO Scott Duxbury told whufc.com: "The West Ham United USA initiatives are designed to maintain the great traditions of the academy 'state-side'. The partnership with the USL provides an excellent platform for the development of the program and the West Ham United presence in the United States."
A sample of the development partnership details include West Ham United identifying up to 20 youth players from the USL Super Y-League and Super-20 League to attend the West Ham United Academy in London for training and evaluation.
West Ham United will also work with USL to place players on loan or in permanent contracts with USL First Division teams. Selected USL coaches will gain a unique opportunity to participate in an unprecedented, behind the scenes technical symposium at West Ham United.
Alan Curbishley, the West Ham manager, said: "As someone who progressed through the youth ranks at West Ham United, I am delighted that the Club is taking steps to expand the development of young players and the opportunities available to them. I look forward to the benefits that the West Ham United USA Academy will hopefully provide, and will take a keen interest in the growth and progress of this exciting project."