Sunderland appear to be eager to join the Premier League's developing interest in the burgeoning US and Canadian football scene, after announcing a partnership with MLS side DC United where they will share "expertise, benefit and promotion" between the two football clubs.
Washington side DC United were one of the top clubs in the MLS in the division's early days, winning three of the four first league titles.
Though DC have struggled in recent years, this season has seen them return to some semblance of form, and they are currently in second place in the Eastern Conference, behind Sporting Kansas.
It comes after a summer of Premier League interest in North American football, with Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester City all playing friendlies on the continent. Additionally, City have invested in next season's New York City franchise. The Black Cats are owned by Texan Ellis Short, as well as having US international Jozy Altidore on their books.
DC United’s chief operating officer Tom Hunt said of the deal: “Through this partnership we look to share best practices on both the technical and commercial side, while also helping Sunderland increase its brand recognition in the nation’s capital and throughout the US.”
Sunderland commercial director Gary Hutchinson added: “This is a major step forward for Sunderland … and a really exciting development for us in the US market. We are continually looking at new ways to develop our international profile and our partnership with DC United will help us to build closer links with this key territory.”
Football in the USA has grown significantly over the last few years, with stars like David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane moving to the MLS with plenty of years of quality football left in them. On top of that, interest in the national side's performances has grown, culminating in the Stars and Stripes' impressive performances in Brazil this summer.
Clearly, the game is growing in the States, and Sunderland taking such an active role in that development is a great move by the club.