The Wash is David Falk’s take on the world of soccer in The WA.
by David Falk
TUKWILA / LAKEWOOD / SEATTLE, WA— I am writing this from all over the place. Or maybe not. But that’s how it feels about now when it comes to fourth division soccer in the City of Tacoma. Depending on who you ask or the criteria you use, it’s possible for three different clubs to say they are the lone true “Tacoma” side.
The clubs involved are making no official claims themselves. Let’s make that clear. They want to play the game and make their programs work. It’s just that in greater Tacoma that can be a challenge, especially when it comes to places to play.
The poll below is just to get people talking about the REAL issue in Tacoma, which is venues, venues, venues.
But this does give us a chance to ponder about what connects a club to a home town. What makes a club “from” or “representing” a city? Where they play? Where they were founded? Where the owners live? Where most of the players live? Where most of the supporters live?
Just for kicks, we can look at the three clubs below and wonder out loud a bit.
Sounders U23 (PDL), FCT 253 (NPSL) and South Sound FC (EPLWA) are all in the large 4th division conglomerate of US Soccer. But where do they stand in the hearts and minds of Tacomans? In the growing soccer scene this is always the challenge: get loyal supporters and grow your base.
Sounders U23 list their official address as Tukwila. They have an owner from Tacoma. They were once called “Tacoma Tide FC,” between 2006-2011. See what happens when you follow this link: www.TacomaFC.com. So surely the U23’s are Tacoma’s team, right? They even played a couple of matches at Cheney Stadium. But wait…they don’t recognize the name of the city in their club name. Hmmm. They also don’t play in Tacoma that much, opting for available venues in Sumner and once yearly in Tumwater. When they were the Tide for six seasons, they played mostly at University Place, a Tacoma suburb. Last season in matches around the area the U23’s announced an average attendance of 414 per match.
The new kids on the block are FCT 253, an NPSL team that wants Tacoma to embrace it. They also wanted to be called simply “FC Tacoma.” But that was too close to the “Tacoma FC” already owned by Sounders U23. So they opted for FCT and tacked on the city area code of 253. FCT’s owner is from Italy. When the club recently announced their 2015 NPSL home schedule, it was revealed that only one match would be played within the city of Tacoma—at Mt. Tahoma High School. The others are in Tukwila, and of all places — Seattle!
Congrats to FCT 253 on making the 2015 US Open Cup after a 6-1 win on Sunday over the San Diego Flash at Memorial Stadium in Seattle. A win for “Tacoma” soccer? You make that decision. FCT 253 has been saying they are the first “Tacoma” club in the modern era (1995-) to make the Open Cup. The Sounders U23 made the USOC in 2013 and won their first match, played in Sumner, over Doxa Italia. So far FCT 253 are drawing small crowds (under 200) in their run-up to the USOC.
The Tacoma School District makes it difficult for any local 4th division soccer club to actually play in “Tacoma.” They charge higher fees that other nearby districts, seemingly willing to let their venues go unused during the summer. It’s been an ongoing issue for a decade, keeping teams out of the city proper.
That means clubs like South Sound FC are left to look around the area. For a second straight season this Evergreen Premier League club will call Harry Lang Stadium in Lakewood home. The “Shock” have more Tacoma players on their roster than either the U23s or FCT 253 — combined. They have a Tacoma-born founder. They relate to each other as true “Tacomans.” Does that make them Tacoma’s true soccer team, even though they too don’t use the city in their club name? Last season the Shock drew an average of 165 fans to their matches at Harry Lang.
Sure, ALL of these teams could be “Tacoma’s,” but do all of them have a right to claim that heritage? Or, is it earned over time and using the criteria listed above? This is much too important (or maybe not) for me to call — so YOU do it. Just for fun.
Vote in the poll below.
And remember to support all of them for the love of local soccer.
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