The Wash: US Soccer controls destiny of Seattle professional team(s)

The Wash: US Soccer controls destiny of Seattle professional team(s)

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.


15 thoughts on “The Wash: US Soccer controls destiny of Seattle professional team(s)

  1. Tough call. I would love to see a city with 2 pro teams and a derby. How about another option? Let Sounders Women in, playing in Seattle and have the new team in Portland. The WPSL Portland Rain might not like it, but competition is good, right? This way Sounders could capitalize on ties they already have in the community and the new team is starting fresh anyway. Everyone is an armchair coach, and on this issue I’m no exception.

  2. I’m sad the two couldn’t work together. Sounders Women put in A LOT of work into this market area this year. It lived up to the Sounders name. It even attracted top NT players from USA and Mexico and players in the NT pool and local college talent. I feel like that hard work should be rewarded. They proved women’s soccer to be a legitimate entertainment option for the area. A second team only showing up after the first did all the work and tested the market strength doesn’t seem right. It seems like under cutting.

    The best situation would be for Sounders Women to continue as the top team, the two groups to find a way to join forces as unlikely as that may be, or this new investor consider looking at Portland. Portland is similarly in soccer country but is in need of someone to step up the women’s game there. It would be a shame if Portland was left out of the new league. It would be a shame if Seattle ended up with two half supported teams or one team built on top of the corpse of the previous one too.

  3. The woman who helped bring those top-tier players to the Sounders Women, former GM Amy Carnell, is now working with Predmore. With her experience and background, I think she’ll be great at growing the team and community again. It’s disappointing the Sounders Women could not find a way to work with Predmore. My vote would be for the team that can provide the most solid budget and plan. Sunil Gulati has said recently that those have been submitted and are being reviewed:

    1. And I thought I was being overly optimistic to think Portland might be an option 🙂 It takes a lot more than a player living in a city to make it work.

  4. I live in Portland. Would love a team here. Would love to follow teams in Portland AND Seattle. (I currently follow both Portland Pilots and Concordia Cavaliers.) My only preference to Portland would be drive time/ gasoline money, but would support both. Heresy to some? Well, good, I like heresy,

  5. Tough call…..I wish there were a way for the two to come together and create a kick ass pro-team. There is alot of talent in this region and I would hate to see disputes erupt and sour the atmosphere. Either way, I will support the team that emerges.

  6. I agree with Hil. Allow the Sounders the pro spot in Seattle and encourage Predmore to go to Portland. Then it’s just a matter of putting together the competition. Give a fair number (3) of USWNT players to each team and bring in some local talent. That should get a rivalry going and build interest. That would solve Seattle’s problem and hopefully put the new league in good standing. I’d love to see Megan Rapinoe, Abby Wambach, and Alex Morgan in Portland with Hope Solo, Tobin Heath, and Sydney Leroux in Seattle. Morgan would probably want to stay in Seattle, but having her in Portland would test the market for women’s soccer there.

    1. Not too greedy to have six USWNT players divided between 2 teams. What about the other 10 teams? Player pool is big, but rostered players is in the neighborhood of 24. Can’t really blame you though 🙂

      1. Well I’m assuming Seattle would want to bring back Solo, Morgan, Rapinoe, and Leroux. I don’t think Morgan and Solo should be on the same team because they are the two most recognizable and marketable players. If the Sounders won the bid into the new league and they pursued the same players it would be difficult to break the two up because Seattle has come to accept them as Sounders. However, I think it could be a good idea if there was a pro Portland team. I don’t think Seattle fans want to see Alex play for “the enemy” but it’s an idea. I can’t imagine Solo leaving Seattle, assuming there’s a pro team there. Anyway this is all speculation because until we know the actual number of teams and where all these markets are, where players go to play remains a mystery. (I keep hearing 10 teams but I think maybe 8 is more realistic. Yes, we kind of have an idea of who’s going to be involved with Boston Breakers, Sky Blue, and Chicago on board but as far as the Pacific Northwest who knows?) I understand the player pool is big and we want those players to play in the new league, but I’m talking specifically about the rostered players because they are the ones everyone–for the most part–knows.

        1. Yes, it’s all speculation, but it’s about time we have something to speculate about! I misspoke when I said other 10 teams, I should have said 8. I hope that Predmore could see the advantage of having 2 teams in NW, creating instant rivalry and would consider starting his team in Portland. Trying to draw Sounders’ fan base away would be cruel. We shall see…

  7. I don’t like the idea of two teams in the Seattle area. The women’s game has had a tough time historically and this isn’t a positive. The previous leagues had a tough time making it with one team per market. If the two potential ownership groups really want to move the women’s game forward and not their own agenda, then work together to create one ownership group.

    I would love if Vancouver and Portland both funded teams. Along with LA, Colorado, the Bay Area, it would make a strong west coast division.

    Just for my own selfish reasons, I don’t want any of our current Sounder women to leave. And if you look around the world, there are a number of high quality players other than the ones that made Seattle home for a few months last summer.

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