Letter by Lane Smith, Co-Owner Sounders Women: Guide to Women’s Soccer Landscape

A letter from Lane Smith, Sounders Women Co-Owner & CEO:

The last 12 months of women’s soccer in America have been extremely eventful. With the folding of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), the Sounders Women emergence onto the national scene, Team USA winning the Olympic gold medal, and the newly forming National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), there has been no shortage of headlines and excitement for women’s soccer fans.

Now that the dust has finally settled, and especially since Washington, and specifically the Seattle area are fielding so many different teams at various levels, we’d like to help by providing some answers, and hopefully, clarity to the women’s soccer landscape. As we have waited for U.S. Soccer to define the new landscape of women’s soccer in America, we can now offer answers to many questions posed by fans and media.

The Sounders Women would like to offer this helpful guide to all women’s soccer fans in the Northwest.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Sounders Women are an official affiliate of the Sounders FC. Our organization represents the Sounders FC in name, jersey, and logo. The organization also owns our brother team, the Sounders FC U-23 and is in excellent standing with the Sounders FC and will continue to provide the service and mission that Sounders Women soccer has upheld for 13 years.

Are the Sounders Women and Seattle Reign the same? – No, the Seattle Reign and Sounders Women are completely separate organizations. There is no ownership, operational, or staff overlap, and the Sounders and Reign compete in two different leagues under the U.S. Soccer umbrella.

The Seattle Sounders Women compete in the United Soccer League’s - W-League. 2013 will be our 13th year in the league. The W-League is considered Pro-Am, as each team has the option of fielding a professional or amateur squad.  The W-League, which began in 1995, is the first and longest-standing women’s soccer league in North America. The 2013 W-League campaign will feature 25 teams in three regional conferences from U.S.A and Canada. The top two seeds from our Western Conference (7 teams) regular season will advance to the playoffs for a chance to play in the W-League National Final Four. CLICK HERE for a list of W-League teams. (http://wleague.uslsoccer.com)

What is the NWSL? – This is a newly formed professional women’s soccer league, under the direct management of U.S. Soccer. The U.S. Soccer federation decided that in order to create a sustainable place for national team players to play domestically train consistently without the need of as many national team “camps”, and to build soccer in America, they should directly operate a league. The NWSL consists of eight teams and competes in the spring and summer. The Seattle Reign FC is one of eight NWSL teams, in addition to teams in Portland, Kansas City, Western New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C, Chicago, and Boston.

Why aren’t the Seattle Sounders Women in the NWSL? – The Seattle Reign organization was selected, by U.S. Soccer, to represent Seattle in the NWSL. The Sounders Women want our fans to know that we made a full effort to acquire Seattle’s rights to continue what we’ve built since 2001. Following proceedings, we believe the best place for the Sounders Women is to continue our tradition in the W-League, which represents the highest level of soccer in the North American development pathway. 

I’ve also heard of the WPSL, what is that?
– The Women’s Premier Soccer League is another league, also fielding amateur teams throughout the summer. Local teams include Issaquah SC, Emerald City FC, and AC Seattle.

The 2013 Sounders Women roster will be made up of top amateur talent, as well as professionals in between contracts, from around the nation and abroad. Players who are currently starring for the top collegiate soccer programs in the country will come to Seattle for the summer to compete in the rave green as to enhance their talents and progress their careers. The W-League will feature a number of exciting players who are one step away from the professional and national team levels. The Sounders Women are very excited about putting together a roster of such players, many of whom boast different levels of youth national team experience including USA U-20 and U-23.

When will we know who is on the Sounders Women? – Our staff is currently recruiting players. Signings will be announced to fans throughout the spring, on schedule for offseason events through our 13 year history.

Current USWNT players have been allocated to play in the NWSL by the United States Soccer Federation. Team USA players, along with those from Team Canada and Team Mexico, will have their salaries paid by their respective federations, providing they compete in the NWSL.

Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Sydney Leroux, Keelin Winters, Veronica Perez, and all the top talent that competed for the Sounders Women last summer were on a 1-year contract, as is customary for the W-League. These six players, along with a number of others have been allocated by their national teams to the NWSL. The Sounders Women have fantastic relationships with these players and wish them all the best in their respective careers.


The W-League regular season kicks off in May. The Sounders Women will open up the 2013 season on April 14 with exhibition matches against top-level Northwest colleges. The first Sounders Women regular season match is May 27th against the Los Angeles Strikers. The W-League Final Four is on July 26-28. The Sounders Women full schedule is attached below.
The NWSL kicks off in April and runs until late August.

The term “professional” carries many connotations. The W-league does allow professional teams. However, if a team in the W-league pays one player, they cannot have any active collegiate athletes on the squad (per NCAA rules). The Sounders Women have chosen to remain an amateur team in order to acquire the top U-23 talent in America, and continue our mission of developing top players toward the pinnacle of women’s soccer.

The NWSL will pay all of its players. Each team has 7 players that are paid for by their respective country’s soccer federations (3 players from USA, 2 from Canada, 2 from Mexico), and a roster of 20 players total. The remaining 13 players’ salaries must fit under a salary cap of $200,000 (roughly 10-$15,000 per player for a six month contract).

Starfire Sports, the official training ground of the Sounders FC, is also the Sounders Women home for practice and matches, continuing our 13 year tradition at the top soccer complex in the nation. The Sounders Women will play at least 11 home matches at Starfire this season. The schedule can be found on SoundersWomen.com.

Our goal is to show Seattle fans an elite level of women’s soccer talent, up close and personal in a fun and affordable environment. Fans can expect pregame, halftime, and post game activities upholding the Sounders identity through history. The Sounders Women are not in any way scaling back the product that fans are coming to see.  The only change will be some of the faces and names wearing the rave green Sounders uniforms. 

As is customary for any elite level sports organization (see Sounders/Seahawks/Mariners/etc), the Sounders Women offered season tickets reservations and pre-purchase well ahead of the upcoming season. The Sounders Women understand that many fans bought tickets expecting to see specific players in 2013.

Where can I direct ticket questions or concerns? – Fans with ticket questions; please email info@SoundersWomen.com or call 206-445-2097 and our staff will respond to your inquiries as quickly as possible. Please include your order number from your ticket purchase and a representative of the Sounders Women will contact you with details.

Lane Smith: Owner & CEO
Cliff McElroy: Owner
Mike Jennings: Owner
Jon Billings: Executive Director
Lesle Gallimore: Technical Director
Corey Sinser: Dir. Game Day Operations & Group Ticket Sales
Teddy Mitalas: Director of Community Relations
Rohan Sehgal: Administrative Assistant
Luke Absher: Business Operations Assistant
Jane Gershovich: Photographer

For more information on the Sounders Women, schedule, roster, and the club’s staff, see SoundersWomen.com.

Thank you to our amazing fans!

Lane Smith

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