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Updated Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 08:16 PM

Women's pro soccer league will have a team in Seattle

By Joshua Mayers
Seattle Times staff reporter

Women's professional soccer is back, and this time it will include a Seattle team.

U.S. Soccer confirmed Wednesday that an eight-team league will begin play next spring with clubs also in Portland, Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, New Jersey, western New York and Washington D.C.

Names have not been announced for the league or the Seattle team, which will be owned by Bill Predmore, founder and president of POP, a Seattle-based digital marketing agency.

"We are thrilled that the United States Soccer Federation has selected our club to represent Seattle in the new league," Predmore said in a statement. "In our proposal we articulated a clear mission: to become one of the best women's soccer clubs in the world. We believe the fans in Seattle deserve nothing less, and we look forward to earning their support over the coming weeks and months."

The Seattle team, according to the statement, will play a 22-game schedule starting in April — three against each league opponent and one extra against Portland, which will be run by the Timbers MLS franchise.

The first women's pro league, the Women's United Soccer Association, operated from 2000 through 2003. It was succeeded by Women's Professional Soccer, which folded in May after three years.

With hopes of sustainability this time, the new league model will be on a smaller scale (e.g. stadium sizes).

U.S. Soccer will also assume some front-office costs and pay the salaries of its participating national-team players. Soccer federations in Canada (up to 16 players) and Mexico (a minimum of 12) will do the same for its players.

That mechanism could help keep stars like Alex Morgan and Hope Solo in Seattle. They led a talent-laden group this summer with the Sounders Women, whose bid into the pro league was denied by U.S. Soccer.

The allocation process for those top players has not been fully defined yet, according to Predmore.

"The players obviously are going to have a voice in where they play," he said. "We have some great homegrown talent, and there are some players who played last year with the Sounders Women that were tremendous. I hope we'll have a club that is compelling enough that we can attract a few of them to come back and play in Seattle again."

Predmore said he expects a team name and home venue, possibly Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, to be settled before season tickets go on sale in December.

A search for a coach will start immediately.

"We just learned about our selection last week, so we have not had a lot of time to get the wheels in motion," Predmore said.

Notes

• Said Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer of the new team in a statement: "We are excited to welcome the new club to the Seattle soccer community. We look forward to building a strong relationship between the clubs."

Amy Carnell, the former general manager of the Sounders Women, has joined Predmore's team in a leadership position.

• The Sounders Women will remain in the USL W-League for the 2013 season and play at Starfire Stadium.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com


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