March 25, 2014, Washington, D.C. (ISN) – D.C. United today announced that the Club will be loaning four players to the Richmond Kickers this season as part of the two clubs’ affiliation agreement. Forward Michael Seaton, defender Jalen Robinson, goalkeeper Joe Willis and forward Cristiano Francois will all join the Kickers on loan for the 2014 season.
“We are extremely excited for our players to once again have the opportunity to go on loan in a fantastic professional environment with the Richmond Kickers,” said D.C. United General Manager Dave Kasper. “To develop quickly as a professional, it involves playing in meaningful games, and our partnership with the Richmond Kickers provides the perfect platform to do just that.”
“Our first season as D.C. United’s official USL PRO affiliate proved extremely beneficial to both clubs as the overall depth of our squad and on-field product improved while providing significant playing time for several of United’s younger players,” commented Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers Director of Soccer. “Joe, Michael, Christiano and Jalen are great additions to our group and we look forward to them making a positive impact for our team while we build upon last season’s success.”
D.C. United and the Richmond Kickers originally entered in to the agreement on January 24, 2013, as part of Major League Soccer and USL PRO’s partnership. Having both benefited from the arrangement, the clubs have extended their partnership in 2014.
Michael Seaton, a 17-year-old native of Capitol Heights, Md., signed with D.C. United as a Homegrown player in January of 2013. Seaton spent most of his rookie campaign on loan with the Richmond Kickers. The powerful striker featured in 15 games and finished fourth on the team in goals scored (5) to go along with one assist as the Kickers went on to win the 2013 USL Pro Regular Season Championship. With United, Seaton appeared in three regular season games and started one friendly in which he recorded an assist.
Jalen Robinson, United’s 7th Homegrown player to sign with the First Team, joined the Black-and-Red on Jan. 6. The 19-year-old Wake Forest University product was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team in 2012 and earned Freshman All-America honors from Top Drawer Soccer and College Soccer News. As a sophomore, he was named to the Second Team All-ACC, Second Team All-South Region and was named the ACC Player of the Week on Oct. 1, 2013. Robinson played and started 19 games, racking up 1,786 minutes for Wake in his sophomore year.
Joe Willis was the 50th selection in the third round of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. In his third season with the Black-and-Red, the goalkeeper started all nine games he appeared in and finished the regular season with 28 saves in 810 minutes with a goal against average of 2.22. Overall, Willis has played in 23 games (22) starts and recorded six wins and four shutouts in his MLS Career.
Cristiano Francois, a former University of Maryland product and Haiti U-17 National Team member, was claimed by United via a waiver draft on Jan. 24. Francois featured in all 24 games for the Terps in 2012, starting three. The dynamic attacking player finished his rookie season with five goals, four assists and a total of 805 minutes played. In 2013, Francois played for the PDL side the Baltimore Bohemians. He played in two games and recorded one assist in 80 minutes.