TUKWILA, Wash. – There’s no announcement planned in the immediate future, but it only seems a matter of time before the Seattle Sounders join the ranks of MLS teams fielding their own USL PRO sides.
Just days away from officially ending their business relationship with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, Sounders GM and part owner Adrian Hanauer said the questions surrounding a potential USL PRO team in 2015 are more about where they’ll play than if they’ll play.
“We’re somewhere between 95 and 99 percent heading toward a USL PRO team here, certainly to begin with,” Hanauer said following Tuesday’s training session at Starfire Sports Complex. “We’ll remain open to other opportunities. It would require finding a good partner and a good facility situation.”
The Sounders have previously talked with the Tacoma Rainiers minor league baseball team about a potential partnership, putting a team at Seattle’s neighbor to the south. Hanauer also listed such cities as Spokane in eastern Washington, Bellingham and Everett to Seattle’s north and even Boise, Idaho, as places for a possible home.
“That’s not much of a question for next year, but we can always move,” Hanauer said.
Assuming nothing changes, the Sounders would most likely have the team playing at Starfire Sports Stadium, the same venue where the Sounders play most of their US Open Cup matches on the same grounds as the club’s practice facilities. That would allow the two clubs to remain in close contact.
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With the dissolution of the Reserve League after this season, all MLS teams will be required to either field complete squads in ULS PRO or partner with existing teams in 2015.
Owning and operating a team would obviously be the more expensive option, but it would come with the added benefit of retaining control over how players are used. The LA Galaxy are the only team currently running their own USL PRO team, but several other teams have revealed their intentions to do so next season.
“It’s been great for us to talk to the Galaxy a little bit about their experience with Galaxy II,” Hanauer said, “to learn what things have gone well, what things they might do differently in the future.”