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The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON

The Wash: Anger, confusion after US Soccer denies Sounders Women

The Wash is David Falk’s take on the world of soccer in The WA.

The decision by US Soccer earlier this week to award a franchise in the new women’s professional soccer league to Bill Predmore (Seattle, PopAgency.com) and not the Sounders Women has caused anger and confusion for local soccer fans. The initial reactions of Sounders Women supporters and general skepticism posted online in comment areas suggests Predmore and co. really have their work cut out to turn the vibes around.

Further, the possibility that Predmore’s team might be called “Seattle Sirens FC” was met with disdain by more than a few fans commenting both here, on Twitter, and elsewhere.

I can understand the emotional, gut reaction from Sounders Women fans.

The Sounders Women are a club that has been around since 2001, mostly carrying out each season in anonymity before crowds of around 300-500 fans. They have kept the torch burning for hundreds of women to play locally at a high level.

In 2012 the club found itself with a roster hosting some of the biggest soccer names in the women’s game after the WPS folded and US Soccer Nationals needed places to play ahead of the Summer Olympics. It was magic. Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Sydney Leroux, Megan Rapinoe and so many others, suddenly wearing Sounders rave green and selling out Starfire with crowds of over 4,000 for each match.

It was not meant to last.

Is Alex Morgan a future Siren? (Wilson Tsoi)

The off-season for the W-League was soon followed with a trickle of news about a new league for women, and then it was revealed that Seattle had two interested ownership groups, Predmore’s and the Sounders Women under Cliff McElroy and Lane Smith. Both submitted personal records to US Soccer to be vetted as potential owners. As we now know, US Soccer went with Predmore and Seattle will have a new team in town come April 2013. The Sounders Women will soldier on in the amateur W-League.

Sounders fans are puzzled and disappointed as to why the history of the Sounders Women and the power of the name “Sounders” were not enough to move US Soccer to pick McElroy and Smith. US Soccer did not provide details on its selection process.

A Seattle Times Q & A with Predmore featured these responses in the comments section:

“I don’t follow the women that closely but I’m confused. Why wouldn’t the established team with an affiliation with the most financially successful franchise not join the professional league…and why wouldn’t women timbers and whitecaps be part of that?”

——

“Those sad old men at USsoccer have missed once again. They’ve got a whole trophy case full of failure. Just put this one on the shelf next to all their other attempts to develop a women’s league and their exclusive TV deals with unobtainable cable channels.”

——

“Predmore has no soccer background, nor any experience in professional sports management. He was given a franchise- rather than give one to the Sounders Women- as a swap for his “marketing” experience. Once again, U.S. Soccer treats professional women to a smoke and mirrors league, based on hype not substance.”

——

“I LOVE women’s soccer, but I will never attend a game involving this team, nor will any of my friends (who have been staunch Sounder supporters for the better part of the last 40 years.) If Predmore is such a good marketing man, he might have done a few simple focus group discussions…. they would have told him what most of us already know: without the Sounders name on this brand, it will be invisible. Even more, I’m insulted.”

——

Sirens Sounding

Meanwhile, the initial response to calling the new Seattle pro women’s club “Sirens FC” has also met with a negative overall response online. Some of the haters are Sounders Women fans, some just general local soccer fans.

For those hoping the name will not be “Sirens,” we should know soon enough, perhaps within a week or so, early December at the latest.

I broke the possibility of the name in this goalWA.net exclusive, which has now been tweeted, linked and shared around the globe, becoming one of our most-read articles ever, even though we’ve been in a Thanksgiving Holiday. The interest in the future team should please Predmore, even if the response to “Sirens” isn’t so great online.

By the way, a bit more research today keeps pointing to that name. Predmore has also bought the domain name “FCSirens.com,” and there is indeed a Facebook page ready to go at Facebook.com/SeattleSirensFC (not yet published.)  The smoking gun is that the http://www.SeattleSirensFC.com domain, owned by Predmore, currently redirects to the future Facebook page. Of course things have a way of changing, and domain names are cheap, so who knows what we’ll hear when the name is actually announced.

Here is a sampling of responses to “Sirens FC” from around the internet:

“…based on @alexmorgan13 alone, the name SeattleSirens FC is a winner.”

——

“Seattle Sirens FC ….because Vixens and Cougars were already taken.”

——

“If the name AND team logo strongly indicate the non-femme fatale, noisemaker variety, then the name really isn’t sexist. The call on political correctness then will fall on the audience when they see the Starbucks logo on the jerseys, if it’s indeed the sponsor….”

—–

“It is unintentionally sexist. Modern day usage of siren concentrates on the beauty aspect. The Seattle Shipwreckers doesn’t really have a ring to it though.”

——

Will Hope Solo stay in Seattle and cross over to the professional side of the soccer street? (Wilson Tsoi)

So the birth of a new Seattle club in a new league is met with less than rousing applause online, making the work of Predmore and the team he will assemble daunting. In order to win over the skeptics the new side will need to conquer the anger of Sounders Women fans, reveal a well-received crest, name and team colors scheme, hire a well-known head coach…and lure Hope Solo away from the Sounders Women. Alex Morgan wouldn’t hurt either. It looks as if 2012 Sounders star Megan Rapinoe might end up with the new Portland team, where it is a near-certainty that Abby Wambach will play.

I need a Starbucks.

See also: Making sense of Seattle’s role in new pro women’s soccer league

More: Women’s soccer in Seattle: It’s complicated

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10 comments on “The Wash: Anger, confusion after US Soccer denies Sounders Women

  1. Pingback: “Sirens FC” could be new Seattle women’s club name « goalWA.net

  2. Wade
    November 23, 2012

    Nice article. I just hope this doesn’t turn in to a Magic Jack scenario. I’m also concerned that his motives are more about marketing and less about soccer. Then the whole Starbucks connection and my bitterness with Howard Schultz letting the Sonics go makes me think this is going to be a big cluster f**k. So I will continue to watch a quality product with Sounders Women. .

    • goalWA.net
      November 23, 2012

      Any possible “Starbucks” connection has yet to be announced. It is conjecture. In regards to “quality product,” I wonder what soccer fans will think as the ‘stars’ sign with the new team? US Soccer will pay player salaries for their stars…but not at the W-League level…

  3. Brandon Sparks
    November 23, 2012

    Do the current Sounders Women owners have the resources to actually operate a national professional sports franchise? They bought a pair of amateur teams last season and made a shrewd move to partner with the Sounders and take advantage of national players in need of a place to play for training, but could they actually pay a whole team of professionals?

    I also think that most people don’t understand that the Sounders Women are a separate entity. Obviously the Sounders FC organization would have won the rights to operate a team in Seattle but it wasn’t that ownership group bidding on a team.

    • goalWA.net
      November 23, 2012

      Important distinctions, Brandon. They only add to fan confusion, don’t they? The Portland Timbers ownership WILL operate a team in the new league, but they won’t call them the Timbers. The Sounders ownership DOESN’T operate any women’s soccer club, and the Sounders Women use the name and associated logo via consent of SSFC, but are owned by Cliff McElroy and Lane Smith. It is generally assumed that Predmore had the better financial resume.

  4. lolGOL
    November 23, 2012

    Didn’t the GM and possibly also the coach for the Sounders Women last year move to Predmore’s group? The GM, Amy Carnell, was reportedly very highly respected and instrumental in bringing the national players in as well as working the branding deal with the MLS Sounders. Michelle French is also a very well-respected coach. I can understand the reaction of some long-time Sounders Women fans, but it seems like if they want high quality womens’ soccer, they should follow the talented people.

    • goalWA.net
      November 23, 2012

      Carnell is with the new club, though her efforts in getting the USWNT players to Seattle this year is overstated, according to sources. Michelle French’s future with either club has not yet been announced.

  5. David Quintana
    November 23, 2012

    I may be one of the few that thinks Predmore is a better guy to run this team. Sorry but Smith and McElroy have done really poorly with the women’s team. As far as the name I like it. It gives this team it’s own identity and it can compete on the entertainment arena as it’s own. Of course we are going to hear the voice of the 200 to 300 people who really bleed the sounders women. But really those people can be replace if this is done right and the marketing is good.

    • goalWA.net
      November 24, 2012

      I am hopeful the new club does well, as goalWA.net supports all local soccer! As far as Smith, McElroy and the Sounders Women, those two have only owned the club for one season, and it was the most high-profile season in the team’s decade-plus history. So, you’d need to elaborate on the “done really poorly” comment. It was quite a start to their ownership tenure in 2012.

  6. Pingback: Facebook, Twitter feature “Seattle Sirens FC” holding pages (vote on name) « goalWA.net

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This entry was posted on November 23, 2012 by in Adult Leagues, Seattle Sounders Women, Social Media, The Wash and tagged , , .

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