Sounders FC announced a partnership Wednesday with Tacoma Tide FC to have the local Premier Development League team rebranded as the Sounders FC U-23s and integrated into the organization’s youth development system.
Seattle GM Adrian Hanauer talked about the possibilities of a PDL affiliation last week and said it would likely be “an ideal situation” for the team’s academy players. The PDL is in the fourth tier of the American soccer pyramid and consists mostly of amateur teams.
“By now having an affiliated PDL program, Sounders FC has added an additional piece to our Youth Development Program, creating a bridge between our academy teams and our Major League Soccer first team,” Hanauer said in a news release. “This allows our college-age players to continue their development and further prepare themselves for the opportunity to compete at the highest possible level and potentially wear the Rave Green someday at CenturyLink Field.”
The team will be coached by Darren Sawatzky, Sounders FC’s director of youth development, and play home games in Pierce County at a venue to be announced later. Seattle’s first PDL game will be in May.
The U-23 will be operated by Lane Smith and Cliff McElroy, who purchased the former Tacoma Tide FC and Sounders Women in November.
Here’s some reaction from Smith in the release:
“Pierce County has a rich soccer heritage and we are excited to partner with the Sounders to be able to offer Pierce County soccer fans a high-level game experience. The Sounders FC affiliation will allow the U-23 PDL team greater access to top local soccer talent as well as the best college players across the United States.
“We are pleased to have Darren Sawatzky as the U-23 coach. Darren has been successful as an MLS player and USL assistant coach as well as the director of the Sounders Youth Development Program. Darren grew up in Federal Way and he has strong ties to the local soccer community.”
And a last bit from Sawatzky:
“Coaching the Sounders FC U-23s is an exciting opportunity for me. It will be great to watch these players grow and compete at this level and chase the dream of playing at the top level. I look forward to getting started.”
What do you think of the announcement?