Lane Smith, one of the new owners of the Tacoma Tide -- which today became Sounders FC U-23s --understands there are some local fans who will miss what they have had for the past six soccer seasons. They won't like the loss of the Tacoma Tide name nor trading in instantly recognizable yellow jerseys and "T" crest for rave green jerseys with Xbox logos and the adapted Sounders crest.
However, he says he is receiving something like 80-percent positive reaction to today's news of affiliation with Seattle Sounders FC.
Here's some of what he had to say on the topic:
There are probably some people that view me as a sellout, or hey, why couldn’t we have our own entity in Tacoma, why are we kowtowing to Seattle, all of those types of things. I did this on the premise that it’s the best thing for soccer in Pierce County. As you’re probably aware, it was very difficult for the Tide to really gather any traction in the last six years, and then once the Sounders went into the MLS, it’s very difficult to build a brand of your own when you’ve got one of the world’s best soccer brands now 40 miles up the road. That’s the buzz and what everybody was talking about. So when the team was purchased we were going to field a team whether it was the Tacoma Tide or the Sounders U-23—either way. It was not like we bought the team to do this. And it’s something that Mike Jennings had been working on for over a year with Adrian, trying to lobby Adrian that this is the next step that you need to put in place, because after the academy kids graduate, where do they go? You kind of lose track of them under the Sounders brand. So this predates my involvement.
However, like Northwest soccer legend Alan Hinton in the post below, Smith also cites the historic soccer bond between the Emerald City and the City of Destiny:
From a Pierce County standpoint, I’m not sure we’ve fully embraced the legacy of what Tacoma has done for the Sounders. This is version three of the Sounders. Version one of the Sounders had Tacoma players Mark Peterson, Jeff Stock, this list goes on and on. I graduated from Lincoln High School in 1980, and I was a sophomore. Could you imagine being down in Lincoln Bowl in the sand and there’s guys playing there and – poof – next thing you know Jeff Durgan’s starting for the New York Cosmos with Franz Beckenbauer and Pele, and Mark Peterson scoring goals for the Sounders in the NASL next to Roger Davies. From a kid perspective it was just a magical time. That plays into my past vision of the Sounders. And there are so many people who live in this area who are past professional soccer players. Some of them played back in the NASL days for the Stars, and a whole ton of them went and played outdoors. Darrin Sawatzky played MLS soccer – he’s a Federal Way guy. It’s not just Seattle that has contributed to the Sounders from a player standpoint. There’s a rich, rich history in Tacoma. … Hopefully we’ll look to bring some of that legacy back on what I’ll call our Sounders: the Pierce County U-23 Sounders.