Washington Youth Soccer, the Seattle Sounders Women and Sounders FC U-23 teams announced a developmental partnership Tuesday to accentuate the state youth soccer association’s Long-Term Player Development Plan and to develop the brands of all three organizations within the state of Washington.
Providing the guidelines for age-appropriate development for soccer players of all ages, abilities and genders, the Long-Term Player Development Plan is at the core of Washington Youth Soccer’s coaching and player-development philosophy, helping guide the development of the more than 115,000 players aged 5-19 who play in Washington Youth Soccer-affiliated programs. By entering into their new partnership with the Sounders Women and Sounders U-23 squads, Washington Youth Soccer can extend that development model to age 23 and beyond, helping players throughout Washington reach their highest potential in a healthy, sustainable way. Players in the Sounders FC/Washington Youth Soccer Elite Player Development program will enjoy increased access to training and matches for the Sounders Women and Sounders U-23 teams, and receive coaching from elite Sounders Women staff.
The three organizations will also team up on marketing efforts, with Washington Youth Soccer promoting ticket sales, news and information on the Sounders Women and Sounders U-23 teams to its members via website, e-mail and event promotion, and the professional clubs doing the same for the state’s largest youth soccer organization. “This is a perfect extension of the developmental goals for our players and families in Washington,” stated Washington Youth Soccer President Doug Andreassen. “We have built the perfect partnership with the Seattle Sounders FC in their first four seasons and we see this opportunity to do the same with U-23 Sounders and Sounders Women.”
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The Sounders Women play in the USL W-League, the first and longest-standing women’s soccer league in North America. Featuring current and former international and professional stars, the W-League also provides elite amateurs the opportunity to compete while maintaining their eligibility as college student-athletes. The league is recognized throughout the world for providing superior competition for female players, while offering affordable family entertainment for fans throughout North America.
The Sounders U-23 team, likewise, offers a developmental pathway for elite college players in the Premier Development League (PDL), the top developmental men’s league in the U.S. In addition to league games, PDL teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, as well as various exhibitions.
"We're delighted about this partnership with Washington Youth Soccer,” says Sounders Women and Sounders U-23 Co-Owner and CEO Lane Smith. “The soccer community is a tight-knit family and we feel like this partnership adds another set of brothers and sisters to help push local soccer forward.”
All three organizations have worked closely for years as part of the fabric of Washington’s rich soccer community — indeed, Washington Youth Soccer alum DeAndre Yedlin, who spent the last summer playing with the Seattle Sounders U-23 squad while on break from Akron University, recently became the first “Homegrown Player” named to the roster of the Seattle Sounders FC MLS franchise; while Hope Solo, a former Washington Youth Soccer star, returned to Seattle to play for the Sounders Women during the 2012 season.
"The Sounders Women and U-23s take pride in representing the local soccer community on an elite level,” says Sounders Women and Sounders U-23 Co-owner Cliff McElroy. “This partnership is a perfect fit as it exemplifies that dedication and our unified values with Washington Youth Soccer."
The new developmental partnership, however, will mark a strengthening of the relationship between the three organizations, each of which are committed to providing the highest levels of development and training to Washington’s top young soccer talents. “Washington can be proud of the model for all soccer in America — with a clear development pathway from the youth levels to the most vibrant and competitive professional teams in the country,” says Washington Youth Soccer CEO Terry Fisher. “Washington Youth Soccer is all in — 100 percent supporting soccer at all levels — building dreams for the future for our kids and their families. This is the greatest place in America for soccer at all levels. Let’s make them all successful!”
The Sounders Women will begin play in April, while the Sounders U-23 men will begin their season in May. For schedules, ticket information and more, visit www.sounderswomen.com and soundersu23.com.
About Washington Youth SoccerWashington Youth Soccer is the largest youth soccer organization in Washington. Washington Youth Soccer is the state's affiliate for US Youth Soccer, which is the largest sports organization in the United States and the most populous member of the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body for soccer in the United States. The Washington Youth Soccer is the sixth largest membership in the nation; our organization represents over 115,000 players (ages 4-19) and their families, 15,000 coaches on 12,000 teams and 6,500 referees in the state of Washington. Washington Youth Soccer’s mission is to foster the physical, mental and emotional growth and development of the State of Washington's youth through the sport of soccer at all levels of age and competition.