The press conference has begun with general manager Adrian Hanauer announcing that club will open Seattle Sounders FC 2 in USL-Pro next season. Andrew Opatkiewicz has been introduced as the GM. No coach has yet been named. Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said there could be candidates on his staff, and in any case the FC and S2 staffs and teams will work closely together.
The new team will play at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila. Games will be streamed and some could be televised.
Sounders FC also announce that they have given 20 percent of S2 to a supporters group called Sounders Community Trust. Info at SoundersCommunityTrust.com (or will be).
Below are part of the opening statements from general manager Adrian Hanauer and FC coach Sigi Schmid:
HANAUERWe’ve very excited for this development in our evolution. … A massive piece of the puzzle is development of young players, and that’s a big part of why we’re here today. … Until now we did have a big of a gap in our development. … This project is the culmination of really several years worth of work. (MLS) started talking about development in a big way several years ago as it relates to a potential USL-MLS partnership. It took a while to get there. But next year in Major League Soccer it will be mandated that each team needs to run a USL Pro franchise or partner with a USL Pro franchise, and that really, really does bode well with the continued development.
SCHMIDSometimes it’s a big jump from college to the pros. Sometimes its an even bigger jump from the academy to the pros. Being able to have our our USL team and our own second team here bridges that gap and gives us that opportunity. I see Lamar Neagle (here) and many, many years ago when Lamar came to us as a college player and tried out for our team and we didn’t feel he was quite strong enough at the time, we had to send him all the way across country to Charleston (South Carolina). Well we don’t have to do that anymore. We have the means to continue his growth and continue his development here. … And for our first team, obviously it gives opportunities for the growth of our staff members … but also for the players as they’re coming off injuries or they’re not getting enough minutes for the moment on our team to get sufficient playing time to stay sharp. … To be able to have the team locally instead of having to work with a team that’s a thousand miles away or two thousand miles away just makes it so much better from a coordination and from a development aspect. And the players, even on a daily basis, we can bring players into our training. If we’re short on players in training we can bring up two, three, four guys and bring them into our training. If we see somebody who’s doing really well in the Sounders 2 team we can bring him up to our training. We can bring him up and put him into our 18 for a game. So there are great opportunities that present themselves for the growth and development of the players, and the continued growth and development of our organization and our club. So it was a missing link and it was an important part that we got covered.
Here's the report from the club:
Seattle Sounders FC announced today the launch of Sounders FC 2, a USL PRO team that will begin operations in 2015 at Starfire Sports. The team, known as S2, will operate under the management of Sounders FC and the Sounders Community Trust, an unprecedented, fan-owned organization that will hold a 20-percent interest in the team.
With an emphasis on development and community, Sounders FC 2 will provide a consistent and competitive professional environment for promising Academy players and certain First Team players to develop, as well as extend club access to supporters and increase opportunities to be involved with the organization.
"We are proud to announce the formation of S2 and complete the player development program that starts with our Academy and ends with the Sounders FC First Team," said Sounders FC Owner and General Manager Adrian Hanauer. "The partnership with the Sounders Community Trust supports the club's vision for a fan-involved sports organization that deeply values the input and perspective of its supporters."
The club is also announcing the appointment of Andrew Opatkiewicz as Sounders FC 2 General Manager. Opatkiewicz has a decade of sports industry experience, with a targeted focus in professional soccer, including a background with Intersport, Stats LLC, Prozone Sports and former USL Premier Development League side Seattle Wolves FC.
S2 will base its operations out of Starfire Sports in Tukwila and play USL PRO regular-season games at Starfire Stadium.
"I am excited for the 2015 season at Starfire. Sounders FC has a strong Academy and deep First Team roster, so the club will benefit from the additional competitive matches," said Opatkiewicz. "Over time I think this move will prove very important to the development of world-class First Team players from the Puget Sound. We also have the opportunity to do something unique by working with the Sounders Community Trust to involve our community in the management of this team, and Emerald City Supporters and other supporters to create an authentic and exciting atmosphere on match day."