The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
The Wash is David Falk’s take on the world of soccer in The WA.
US Soccer has jumped into the women’s professional soccer scene far beyond just sending some of its brightest stars to play in whatever league is still operating. Now the federation will oversee the development of a new professional women’s league, with as many as ten cities / ownership groups hoping to make up that league and kick off in 2013.
Seattle has two ownership groups that would like to join, one by owner Bill Predmore (Pop) and now also featuring former Sounders Women General Manager Amy Carnell, and the Sounders Women, who have spent their life in the W-League and are owned since 2011 by Cliff McElroy and Lane Smith (Datec). In recent weeks the USSF has made statements that are clarifying where things stand, and the Sounders Women recently held a press conference to say where they stand.
US Soccer at some point will have to decide which clubs make the new league, and whether it is Predmore and a new team or the Sounders Women “going up” who will represent Seattle in the pro circuit.
It will be a tough decision. On the one hand if US Soccer decides the Predmore bid is best, Seattle will suddenly have two teams to consider supporting. Premore’s in the new pro league, and the Sounders Women, who say they would then return to the W-League, which would be second division. On the other, if the USSF picks the Sounders Women, then it likely has lost an interested, seemingly well-funded women’s soccer investor in Predmore.
What’s best for women’s pro soccer? What’s best for Seattle?
The best choice for women’s pro soccer and Seattle would be the club that has the most resources (yes, money) and can sustain a franchise over the long run at the national level.
Is that Predmore? The Sounders Women group? Which can better help a new league and afford the costs of marketing, travel and player salaries and maybe even stadium upgrades at Starfire? The vetting process is apparently just getting underway.
Could the two groups form a dynamic partnership and field one team together? It’s possible but does not seem likely.
Carnell recently told SounderatHeart “I am… a true believer, and as passionate as ever about growing the women’s game in this country. I am currently working with an owner here in Seattle (Predmore) that believes in the game as much as I do.” Perhaps a slight slap at the owners that didn’t renew her Sounders’ GM contract.
The name “Sounders Women” carries emotional weight into the topic. There are certainly plenty of local fans who want the name “Sounders” to be the name of their pro women’s side. It would be a hard sell for the W-League Sounders to kick on with a pro club perhaps playing right in the same stadium.
What would you do if you were US Soccer? Give Seattle two teams and see who can make the best of it? Take the risk and maybe be rewarded with an intense city derby? Invite Predmore into the league, essentially giving Seattle two clubs at two levels? (Not to mention the two Seattle WPSL clubs, Issaquah SC and Emerald City FC)?
One thing is certain. The sooner the USSF and the new league get it together and make their “Seattle choice,” the better off it will be for fans, owners and players alike.