Seattle Sounders FC Announce Fan-Owned Second Team
Photo courtesy of Sounders FC Communications
One of the most successful Major League Soccer franchises had a big announcement today that could impact the way the MLS operates in the future. Seattle Sounders FC announced the launch of a USL PRO team that will begin in 2015. Appropriately named Sounders FC 2 (or S2), the announcement comes in conjunction with Cascadia rival club, Portland Timbers, who announced a Timbers 2 USL PRO team earlier today. Sounders FC 2 will make it’s home at Starfire Sports in Tukwila, WA. S2 will serve as a the Sounders Second Team, and a stepping stone if you will between the Sounders FC Academy and Sounds FC First Team.
In a press release, the Sounders FC boasted an emphasis on development and community for S2, and promises a consistent and competitive professional environment for Academy players, First Team players, and opportunities for other talented players, whether college players or by special invite. As for the community part of S2, they are offering supporters an opportunity to truly be involved with the new USL PRO team. Fans can actually own part of the team through the Sounders Community Trust.
Through the Sounders Community Trust, supporters can assume a 20% equity share of S2. Sounders Community Trust is accepting Founders Club memberships, which include “several benefits”, including significantly discounted S2 season tickets – the several benefits have yet to be fully disclosed, as SoundersCommunityTrust.org is still under construction.
The Sounders Community Trust is an unprecedented opportunity for Sounders supporters and sports fans alike. If successful, this could propel the relationship between sports organizations and their fans. All proceeds from the Founders Club memberships will be used for improvement projects at Starfire Sports. The organization is a charitable, supporter-managed, non-profit in which members will get full voting rights, and will elect one representative to sit on the Second Team Executive Board.
The USL PRO partnered with the MLS in 2013 to give MLS clubs an opportunity to field a Second Team to develop their players within their organization. In 2014, USL PRO had 14 teams, and Seattle joins Portland, Austin, Charlotte, Colorado Springs, Louisville, St. Louis, and Tulsa as new teams already announced for 2015. USL PRO competes for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and is the longest-standing pro league affiliate member of U.S. Soccer.
Side note, in the press conference, it was asked if any other places were considered to house S2, and it was mentioned that they “could’ve chosen Boise or Spokane and it would’ve been great there…” It makes one wonder whether or not Boise would ever be able to support a team like Sounders 2 and eventually a MLS team down the road. Personally, I’d love to see Boise get something like a USL PRO team. I think it would bring together sports fans who don’t necessarily like hockey, baseball, or American football and with the intense growing popularity of soccer in the Pacific Northwest, why wouldn’t Boise want to get in on the action that Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver are all reaping the benefits of? It’ll be interesting to see where other MLS franchises go from here.