Several Arsenal youngsters could be joining the Colorado Rapids on loan in January, the MLS club’s president Tim Hinchey has confirmed.
Both owned by Stan Kroenke, the two sides formed a “strategic partnership” in 2007, resulting in former Gunners scout Gary Smith joining the Rapids in 2008 as an assistant, before eventually taking up the head coaching role.
Smith lead the team to their first-ever MLS Cup title in 2010 before departing the following season, but there has since been little sign of communication from across the pond, aside from midfielder Samuel Galindo arriving on an unsuccessful trial last winter.
However, Hinchey and vice president of soccer operations Paul Bravo were in England last week to meet with Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis and discuss how the two clubs can work more closely together.
With the talks described as ‘very positive’, the Rapids are now hoping to mirror Manchester City-backed expansion side New York City FC, who are set to receive up to four of the Premier League side’s prospects for their inaugural season in 2015.
‘Certainly, I think, as the league continues to rise, it’s helpful to them to see what’s happening in Major League Soccer and, without question, with Man City’s recent investment in New York City that’s certainly urged Arsenal to continue to see how perhaps – within the family – we could work together,’ Hinchey, a former director at Derby County, told the club’s official website.
‘The league’s growing fast and we need to keep up, and to be able to tap into one of the world’s greatest club’s scouting networks would be something we’re keen to do and we certainly welcome that offer.
‘We talked a little about player development. We talked specifically about South America and Central America, and that led to us getting back together on Friday and we talked about opportunities for key players that may or may not be in the long-term view for Arsenal.
‘We discussed the possibility of potential loan opportunities and acquisition opportunities from some of their player ranks should the opportunity arise in January.’
The Rapids have suffered a dramatic slump during the second-half of the 2014 campaign, going on a 12-game winless streak which leaves them eliminated from play-off contention with two regular-season games left.
Looking to rebuild during the offseason, the imminent arrival of NYCFC and fellow expansion side Orlando City SC is set to make MLS even more competitive next season, and Hinchey admits that the club will be forced to work even harder as a result.
‘We will find the best players globally with our increased technical staff and we will work harder – we’ll have to work harder – than other clubs,’ he said.
‘And if we can leverage our relationships and the resource of someone like Arsenal, to help us find those "difference-makers", it means we'll not necessarily have to over spend but we will spend wisely.
‘I fully believe that Ownership is going to allow us to invest, whether that be additional technical people on staff that will help both Paul and Pablo get better, additional scouting resources, bringing in another DP in January and our desire to increase collaboration with Arsenal.
‘Those are all reasons why I know we’re going to get this project to where it belongs, sooner rather than later.’