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Sounders 'highly likely' to field USL Pro team in 2015

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Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer tells Don Ruiz that team will probably be owned and operated by Sounders and play at Starfire, at least to start.

A USL Pro team would mean the Sounders can be more patient with the next Cordell Cato.
A USL Pro team would mean the Sounders can be more patient with the next Cordell Cato.
Steven Bisig-US PRESSWIRE

It appears the Seattle Sounders are poised to launch a USL Pro team in 2015 that will play its games at Starfire Sports Complex. This isn't necessarily a "new" development, but Sounders GM and part owner Adrian Hanauer made possibly his most firm statement on this possibility during an interview with Don Ruiz of the Tacoma News-Tribune.

"Yet to be settled but highly likely that we will operate our own USL-Pro team out of Starfire (sports complex in Tukwila)."

What does this mean? In the short term, the USL Pro team will probably look and feel a lot like LA Galaxy II, the USL Pro team that launches this year. LAGII will feature a roster made up mostly of Homegrown Players and Galaxy reserves. Galaxy academy players not currently enrolled in college will also be able to play on the team. To supplement those players, LAGII will sign somewhere between 12-18 players to independent contracts. Those players will all be subject to discovery signings by either the Galaxy or any other interested MLS team. The team has said this project will cost more than $1 million a year to run even though they'll be playing most of their games at one of StubHub Center's smaller stadium's.

Longer term, the Sounders are clearly leaving the door open for something bigger. They've expressed a desire to put this team in someplace like Everett or Tacoma, but they want to make sure there's a facility in place and probably an ownership group willing to help defray the costs. Ideally, it seems like the Sounders want technical control of this team but they'd probably want someone else running business operations.

Putting a team at Starfire allows them to get a team started immediately, though. This has to be seen as a net positive for the team.