Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Owner of Seattle's NWSL franchise says his "very satisfied" with how Reign fared in allocation, doesn't seem particularly concerned about his midfielder's declared affinity for Portland.
Megan Rapinoe's heart may be in Portland, but Seattle Reign owner Bill Predmore says he's not remotely worried about the midfielder's future with his NWSL team. At the same time, Predmore said he understood her comments and fully supported her desire to play in Europe until the NWSL is near the middle of its season.
"There is no doubt in our mind that all of the allocated players are going to playing for us in 2013," Predmore told Sounder at Heart. "All of them explicitly promised the league that they would play in the league if they were in the allocation process. All of them had the opportunity to opt out of the allocation process so if you didn't want to be in the allocation process, you didn't have to be."
Rapinoe is contracted with Olympique Lyonnais of France's D1 Feminine through this season. If Lyon makes it all the way to the Champions League final -- they are currently in the quarterfinals -- that would keep Rapinoe busy until May 23. Predmore said he expects Rapinoe to join the Reign shortly after that.
"I think everybody is supportive of Megan's desire to play in Europe," he said. "I think it's going to be a great opportunity for her. We think she'll be enthusiastic about coming back and plyaing in Seattle. We totally understand her love that she expressed for her hometown, but I don't think that's an indication in a lack of interest or committment to our club. We expect her back sometime this season and there's no doubt in my mind that she'll give 100 percent and fans are going to be thrilled to watch her."
In a bit of a wide-ranging interview, Predmore also made it clear that he felt the Reign did very well in last week's national-team player allocation and that the team is set up well to succeed both on and off the field in its inaugural season.
He pointed out that between Rapinoe and goalkeeper Hope Solo, the Reign have two of the most marketable players in the world. In combination with the other allocated players, they should also form a strong foundation from a talent perspective.
"We were very satisfied," he said. "We've had multiple groups analyzing the results of the allocation process and almost everyone we've come in two or three. By any objective measure, we should feel good about where we ended up in the process, and we do."
As good as the Reign did, though, Predmore knows there's still a lot of work to do. The Reign still need to fill out the remaining 13 spots on their 20-player roster through a combination of free agency and Friday's four-round college draft, where they will be drafting seventh. To do that, they'll only have a budget of $200,000. Teams will also only be allowed to sign two additional players from outside the United States.
Unlike MLS which has more of a soft cap that allows teams to spend virtually unlimited amounts of money on Designated Players, Predmore expects the NWSL to have far more constrained rules.
"It is fair to say that the salary cap is modest by many standards," he said, noting that the exact details have not been finalized. "It's what the league can afford right now. It doesn't help anyone if we have a $500,000 salary cap and all the teams go out of business in a year or two. My hope is that cap number will go up every year and hopefully in 10 years it's significantly higher."
Although those rules effectively eliminate the possibility of someone like Brazil's Marta joining the league, Predmore was hopeful he would be able to sign some notable internationals. He said the combination of the market and head coach Laura Harvey's reputation have so far proven to be useful recruiting tools.
"Money is always a consideration, but it's not the only consideration," he said.
Off the field, the Reign are in a similar stage of "under construction." Their home stadium should be announced in "days, not weeks" and tickets are scheduled to go on sale Jan. 24 at 9 a.m. Predmore said the team is still in the process of filling out its support staff and noted that the Reign have basically been built from scratch over the past couple months.