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Seattle Sounders FC launch USL PRO team for 2015

The new second team will play at Starfire Sports in Tukwila, is operated by the big club and has an unprecedented ownership arrangement in professional US soccer - fans will own 20% of the team. Sounders 2 will replace the Sounders Reserves.

Sounders 2

At a major production in the Chihuly Garden and Glass, owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer announced the launch of Sounders 2 to play in USL PRO, the US third division. The club will primarily exist as a developmental tool for the youth coming up from the Academy with the goal of playing in MLS with the first team.

Hanauer said "this is another historic day for Seattle Sounders soccer." The team is independent and named Seattle Sounders FC 2. He thanked Washington State Youth Soccer, Starfire Sports and the City of Tukwila for their participation in the event and the team.

Background on the USL PRO search, decision

Answering the question of "what is unprecedented?" at the announcement, members of the Alliance Council detailed a complex ownership agreement where the owners of the MLS team will own 80% of the team and the other 20% will be owned by the members of the Sounders Community Trust. It is a more realized version of Democracy in Sports.

The club has not announced any players or coaches at this point, but it did emphasize that development is the primary soccer goal of the organization. The first GM is Andrew Opatkiewicz, former GM of Seattle Wolves of the PDL. Opatkiewicz also has experience in sports analytics. As is fairly standard at lower levels of sport, he will lead both business and sporting decisions.

Sounders 2 will focus on player development and serving the First Team "as a way to create world class players from the Puget Sound area," according to GM Opaatkiewicz.

"Duwamish Sown, Seattle's Own" took off in the Brougham End this year, and with Sounders 2 that will be even more true. The team will play within a few feet of where the Duwamish River starts (the confluence of the Green and Black Rivers in Tukwila) at Starfire Sports. Minor improvements to the facilities are already underway, with more to come. The club and Starfire are aware of the concerns of fans about playing at the facility. Details on the improvements were light at this time, but the goals of ease of getting in and out, beer service, food variety and general upgrades to the professional atmosphere of the decade-old stadium are promised to be addressed.

Hanauer, Opatkiewicz, Sigi Schmid, players and coaches all attended the announcement. Seattle is one of 12 teams joining USL PRO in 2015. Two teams are leaving (Orlando City joins MLS and Charlotte Eagles voluntarily relegated to the PDL). Sounders 2 is the the seventh MLS operated team in the third division, including a team launched by the Portland Timbers earlier in the day.

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