Midfielder Tyreke Johnson has appeared for Southampton in both the Premier League and F.A. Cup prior to his arrival on loan this season with the USL Championship's Hartford Athletic. | Photo courtesy Southampton FC
HARTFORD, Conn. – An official agreement might not be in place, but Monday’s announcement that Southampton FC midfielder Tyreke Johnson would join the USL Championship’s Hartford Athletic certainly felt like the next step in a growing relationship between the two clubs that has emerged over recent months.
There are other reasons for the 21-year-old to have arrived at Dillon Stadium, certainly. At the top of the list is his previous experience competing for new Athletic Head Coach Radhi Jaïdi in the Saints’ U-23 squad, which should allow Johnson to quickly fit into the club’s system.
But the move also brings the two clubs closer together as Johnson – who has appeared for Southampton’s First Team in both the Premier League and the F.A. Cup – gets the chance to shine on a new stage after competing previously this season on loan with Woking FC of the National League.
The obvious parallel to be drawn is that between the formal arrangement struck last year between the Championship’s Tampa Bay Rowdies and another current Premier League side, Norwich City FC. Last year, Caleb Richards shone on loan with the Rowdies while spending a full season in Florida from the Canaries, and this year it’s the turn of Louis Lomas to make the most of his time at Al Lang Stadium.
There’s also the new relationship between Orange County SC and legendary Scottish club Rangers FC, which has seen three young players – Cammy Palmer, Danny Finlayson and Matthew Shiels – join OCSC on loan this season, and Orange County youngster Francis Jacobs suit up for Rangers at the recent Alkass International Cup.
The potential for a similar agreement to arrive between Hartford and Southampton – foreshadowed by Athletic Chairman Bruce Mandell’s comments when Jaïdi was hired last November – seems the next logical step for the two clubs.
“Our fans have given us a mandate to build a world class organization, and Radhi brings everything to the table that we need to achieve this goal as our leader on the field,” said Mandell then. “We thank Southampton Football Club for putting their trust in our organization and look forward to our growing relationship.”