Over the weekend, Pali Blues of Fullerton, Calif., eliminated Sounders Women from the W-League playoffs, 1-0; while Sounders U-23 kept its PDL season alive with a 2-1 win over FC Tucson. Sounders U-23 will play a national semifinal Saturday at FC London (Ontario)
However, owner Lane Smith already has confirmed that both clubs will return in 2013.
Here’s some of a Monday conversation with Smith, as the Tacoma native nears the end of his first season as part owner of each club.
On whether Sounders Women will return to the W-League in 2013: Absolutely. And that being said, we are hopeful that Hope (Solo) is maybe back in town. She bought a house here. And Alex (Morgan) has a relationship with (Sounders FC midfielder Servando Carasco). We hope that what happened this year is something they want to do next year.
On whether Sounders Women can remain so star-studded and if it might move up to any new first division: We talked to all of them. They’re very nice and cordial and want to come back. There also are people like Veronica Perez, who isn’t a women’s national team player, but I think she scored like 50 percent of our goals this year. This player was a Mexican national team player, and her little sister is going to be going to the University of Washington. There’s a lot of connections here. I think it would be very difficult at this time next year to have a U.S. pro women’s league at the WPS level. It’s not that I’m against that at all. I just think financially, running the team that I ran, I just can’t ever pencil into those numbers even if everybody in my family won the lottery. I would leave that to somebody else.
On if Sounders U-23 will return to PDL: Absolutely, we’re coming back. This year it was kind of patched together because we had a new team, changes going on, fields, venues, a lot of fields being resurfaced this year. … We played a game in Tumwater, which was actually our highest-attended game. So, it’s all good. And now we’ll have a year in the off-season and an organization in the off-season to get all ready for next year.
Advantages of Sounders FC partnership: I think there’s a multitude of things. The connection with the Sounders is obviously great. But having Darren Sawatzky as the coach and general manger: He’s played USL soccer before, he’s played MLS soccer before, he’s the academy director, he can identify talent quickly. He obviously has a pool to pick from from Sounders academy graduates from across the country who are playing D-I soccer, so there’s a great pool there. And there’s also the inertia that gets created by that of other players wanting to come and be part of it. It just was a snowballing thing.
On whether U-23 will continue playing at multiple venues or seek a single home pitch: What Tumwater did for us, why would you not want to bounce around a bit when you have programs like the Tumwater Youth Soccer Association do what they did. … We played a couple of games at Cheney Stadium. I’m not opposed to either way. It’s nice to have a home field, but as you move around – because of the type of team we are – we’re bringing a higher level of soccer to some communities that really would never have it.
On attendance rise between Sounders U-23 and previous Tacoma Tide: Oh yeah, much better. I think 1,400 at Tumwater. The Cheney games I think were 800 and 650. The Franklin Pearce, there were some we didn’t draw very well. I don’t have the attendance figures in front of me, but much much better than last year.