The Wash: The state of the STATE of Soccer

This time on The Wash David Falk looks at the sport of soccer at all levels in the state of Washington and you get to vote on our soccer “state of the union.” exists because soccer is such a big part of our lives. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the sport in Washington today? Leave your comments after the jump.

If this website preaches anything, it is that there is more, much more to soccer in the state of Washington than just the state of Seattle Sounders FC. We are a significant, thriving collection of people who play, watch, referee, coach, train, write, record, photograph and promote the sport of soccer in these parts. The Sounders are the top of our pyramid, but the base is just as important.

Here is a brief summary of how I see things in our state as we approach one of the bigger matches we’ve ever hosted, next Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League quaterfinal leg one between the Sounders and Santos Laguna.

Professional Soccer: The Sounders have won three trophies for us in their three seasons in Major League Soccer. The only glitch in what have been very good seasons is the Sounders’ playoff form. Three straight years out in round one. Attendance is spectacular, interest is steady, media coverage solid and general awareness in the community is amongst the highest in MLS. The Sounders are a success story. The next step is winning MLS Cup.

The Kitsap Pumas offer a small salary for their players, putting them in the professional ranks as well. The Pumas won the 2011 Premier Development League national title and also compete well indoors over the winter. The club has a new head coach, has lost a few important players, and still needs better attendance (600 average in 2011) in Bremeton. Can’t argue with the success on the pitch, though. Inroads also made yearly in connecting with the West Sound community.

My score on a 1-10 scale for Pro Soccer in Washington: 9

The PDL: The Pumas brought home Washington State’s highest league national trophy last season. Meanwhile the amateur PDL North Sound SeaWolves made their debut. This year the former Tacoma Tide FC are now the Sounders U23. Washington Crossfire has a new coach. These clubs all need more promotion and better fan support. The Puget Sound will have a derby this season as all four sides battle for the Ruffneck Cup.

My score on a 1-10 scale for PDL Soccer in Washington: 7

The Women: The recent signing of stars Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux have bolstered interest and ticket sales for the W-League’s Sounders Women. The WPSL Spokane Shine are joined this year by Issaquah SC as the state fields two sides in the Women’s Premier Soccer League. Issaquah will also field a U-23 side opening up a whole second roster for local players.

We’ll be watching in 2012 to see how big the Sounders Women’s crowds are, and to see how Spokane (year two) and Issaquah (debut) compete in the WPSL.

My score on a 1-10 scale for Women’s Soccer in Washington: 8

College: The ultimate test of Washington’s universities is to make an imprint nationally. The WSU Cougars Women have recently been ranked, but they will have a new head coach in 2012. In Division II we have strong programs at Seattle Pacific that annually are ranked. In Division III the Pacific Lutheran men had a great season last year. In NAIA Northwest University (out of Kirkland) fields strong sides. The NWAACC debuted an all-comers pre-season cross-over tournament that did well last year.

Who is a likely candidate to put our college scene on the national map? Perhaps the Washington Husky men, under second-year head coach Jamie Clark. Clark’s recruiting class suggests purple could be a treat to watch this fall.

My score on a 1-10 scale for College Soccer in Washington: 7

Indoor: The Tacoma Stars moved to Starfire Sports in Tukwila in the recent PASL season. Soon their home at the Pacific Sports Center will be complete. The Stars struggled this year. In the lower division (Premier) the Whatcom Soccer Academy (WSA) Rapids won the NW division of the league and are headed to nationals in San Diego. The PASL-Premier NW Division also saw new teams in South Sound Shock and Marysville Ruckus. The Tumwater Pioneers could join in 2012-13.

My score on a 1-10 scale for Indoor Soccer in Washington: 7

Youth Club: Washington Youth Soccer continues to be the leader at the youth level, but US Club is gaining ground as more local clubs decide to leave US Youth. The numbers remain positive with  over 120,000 kids playing, by far the highest per capita total in the United States. The current ‘trend’ in the state is smaller clubs merging and forming alliances with larger clubs.

Crossfire Premier continues its national success and recognition, being placed once again as one of the top premier clubs in the country. Seattle Sounders FC are gaining ground as its academy sides continue to win in the USSDA. Vancouver’s United/Timbers have aligned with the Portland Timbers just across the river. The state of officiating is in transition after Washington Youth Soccer created a Referee Program and hired a director.

My score on a 1-10 scale for Youth Club Soccer in Washington: 7

High School: The state of Washington continues to produce highly-ranked sides. Skyline is a recent example of a nationally ranked school (girls). Interest remains steady and state tournament attendance last year met recent averages. US Soccer recently announced that male players involved in the United States Soccer Development Academy (USSDA) would not be allowed to play high school soccer because the academies are moving to a 10-month schedule.

My score on a 1-10 scale for High School Soccer in Washington: 6

Adult Amateur: For some the most interesting, but always least-covered aspect of soccer in Washington are the scores and scores of adult leagues at all levels and including men, women and co-ed. There are also leagues based around ethnicity, such as La Liga Kent, home of the Seattle Stars, who won the ANSL’s Washington division last year and traveled to California for nationals.

Bellingham United will debut in the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) this spring. The state at one time had several sides in the almost all-Canadian league.

Thousands upon thousands of adults play soccer every day in Washington, from the Greater Seattle Soccer League to leagues throughout the state in Spokane, Yakima and more. The state sends clubs to the USASA regionals yearly.

My score on a 1-10 scale for Adult Amateur Soccer in Washington: 8

Freestyle / Beach: A Seattle Freestyle Soccer group remains active. It was disappointing for beach soccer fans when the annual Alki Blast was not held in 2011.

My score on a 1-10 scale for Freestyle / Beach Soccer in Washington: 6

How would you rate the current OVERALL state of soccer in the STATE of soccer? Vote in the poll embedded within this article, and leave your comments below!


7 thoughts on “The Wash: The state of the STATE of Soccer

  1. I think you score the youth game too highly. there are major flaws in both the WSYSA and the PSPL (USClub) models.

  2. You know, I was going to go with a six, but then the sheer numbers of kids playing made me bump it up to a seven. I agree though that there is a long list of issues and challenges.

    1. I would really enjoy reading an article about the the state of WSYSA vs US Club. Having watched multiple clubs and teams leave for PSPL, for a multitude of reasons, i.e. year round leagues for those not playing in PDL. WSYSA current model has very little interest in Select and Recreational programs, where as PSPL offers leagues year round.

      1. I have done some initial prodding in this area, but most of the time people who have switched over to US Club don’t want to say anything negative about US Soccer because they don’t want to burn bridges. I would love to hear from someone out there on this. Contact me at if you have insight / experience into the exodus from WYS to US Club.

  3. Youth soccer is definitely rated too highly. You cite the number of 120,000 kids playing, but that number has been pretty flat for a decade or longer. And that is the “accepted, published” number that has been more and more questioned. With the ethnic youth leagues, players playing in both WSYSA and USCS being double counted, various other soccer programs (city, YMCA, indoor) it is very difficult to get an accurate number.

    1. So what’s your rating, Scott? A 5 or 6? Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t getting stronger because of the fragmentation. In other words, a fragmented system might reach more different types of kids. Maybe at the state US Soccer level things are stagnant, but I wonder about the rest. You are right, the numbers are hard to come by to make a real evaluation.

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