Rather than rush into anything before they are ready, Seattle Sounders GM and part owner Adrian Hanauer said the team is "leaning" toward participating in the Reserve League for another season. That means any plans to field a stand-alone team in the USL-Pro will be put off until 2015.
"We want to make sure our infrastructure is in place, we have everything aligned, we're prepared so that when we do launch a USL-Pro franchise, we launch it with as much preparation and expertise and gusto that we did the MLS franchise," Hanauer told reporters on Wednesday. "Maybe that's a little bit of an exaggeration, but we want to do it right. We don't feel like we quite have all the pieces in place to do it right."
There are more than a few issues the Sounders would like to address before embarking on what is still uncharted territory for MLS teams. Among them:
- Where the team will play. Although all signs still point to the Sounders wholly owning and operating the team at Starfire Sports Complex, they are still exploring the possibility of bringing on a partner and playing in someplace like Tacoma or Everett;
- Assuming they play at Starfire, they want to make sure the USL-Pro team has its own locker room. They'd also like to make sure there are appropriate locker rooms for the referees;
- There is still the possibility of expanding Starfire seating;
- Creating a more permanent home for the Academy.
How the Academy fits into the USL-Pro puzzle is also a major consideration. Hanauer said one of the main reasons the Sounders are even exploring the possibility of having a team is to give Academy products an obvious place to play before they are ready to compete for MLS minutes.
As it stands now, the Sounders have been reluctant to sign very many Homegrown Players mainly because they would rather have them getting playing time in college than sitting on the bench or needing to be loaned out. By waiting another year, there would also be that many more Academy players available to potentially fill out the roster.
Mainly, though, the Sounders just don't want to rush into anything.
"It is more resource intensive," Hanauer said. "Having the right timing with using those resources and using them in a good way. We could throw a USL-Pro team together next year, but i think we'd waste more money than at this point it would be worth. Once we have those pieces in place, the money would be better spent."