We live in an era of massive growth for American soccer.
It's not really a thing to debate. We are about to hit 30 MLS teams – twice as many as there were when the Sounders played their inaugural season – and the NWSL has added three expansion teams to come over the next two years. Locally, there will be at least four new Washington teams in various USL leagues. One of those is in the a new pro women's league, the first time in the modern era when non-male soccer players will have multiple domestic league options.
Yes, teams continue to fold – RIP San Diego Loyal and Rio Grande Valley FC. These are more than made up by the continuing growth to about 100 professional clubs in the USA (Canada has their own pro league too!) and a few hundred adult amateur sides just below that level.
One thing that the addition of Midlakes United, West Seattle Junction, Spokane Velocity and Spokane Zephyr show – as well as the success of Ballard – is that our state isn't tapped out.
There's a gap in Tacoma again. Pre-COVID Defiance and Reign showed a strong presence there. OlyTown does provide the South Sound some presence, but the thing with lower-division soccer is that it needs to be hyper-local.
Places with past failures were in an era before this sport wasn't pulling in multiple million-viewer matches a year (EPL, Liga MX, UCL, MLS Final, Leagues Cup Final all hit that).
Velocity-Zephyr will have thousands of season ticket holders. Spokane's earlier failures are meaningless.
That's why previous efforts in Yakima, Tacoma, Tri-Cities and Bremerton should be ignored. These are places where people love the sport, love their community and love to dream. That's pretty much all it takes.
Strong local connections, as Midlakes is doing through local ownership, the first female head coach of a men's side at the level in the era and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado as an assistant are doing.
When Sounder at Heart started there was a women's amateur team and men's lower division side in the Greater Puget Sound. Senior adult amateur play was a morse-code-esque blip in Washington.
We're in a different era now. A blog about the sport can be a success. Multiple teams at multiple levels exist throughout Cascadia.
Soccer is stronger because of this. There's an opportunity for late bloomers and those confined to locality to play. Fans can spend a movie ticket price to watch the future of professionalism or they can watch a continental champion or Olympians or World Cup stars.
Everywhere can have a soccer team.
Everywhere should have a soccer team.
Welcome Midlakes, Spokane, West Seattle to this journey. Support them. Support Ballard and Reign and Oly and Sounders. The game is growing right down the road from you.
Catching up on Sounder at Heart
There were a few stories over the 'between week.'
- A special Realio's Ratings: Goodbye, Nico
- Nico Lodeiro signs with Orlando City, report says
- Sounders close to signing centerback Nathan
- Nouhou called into Cameroon's Africa Cup of Nations team
- Voting in the 2023 Sounder at Heart awards closes tomorrow
Looking back at the week's news
Adidas to Release Third Kits for More MLS Teams in 2024. Sounders won't be seeing a new third until 2025. This year they will have a new primary to go with the rebrand, plus the Bruce Lee kit with the new logo.
NWSL Boston Submits Project Notification Form, New Stadium Renderings to City Planning. Boston's NWSL team will have an urban stadium before their OG MLS side.