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December 17, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Sounders FC in active conversations to bring U.S. national team game to Seattle

us logo small.jpgOne issue that was raised in Sounders FC’s year-end business meeting last week was that of hosting a U.S. national team game, men’s or women’s.

This came up during the Q&A portion of the event, and is a topic commonly discussed locally — and even nationally — since Seattle is perhaps the top soccer market in the country.

Unless I’m mistaken, the last national team games here were in 2005 and 2009, but as part of CONCACAF’s Gold Cup. I believe there hasn’t been a singular U.S. Soccer game here since this one in 2003.

The issue was posed once again to Sounders ownership Thursday night, and specifically if the artificial turf at CenturyLink Field — which would almost certainly require the installation of temporary grass for an important game — is a factor.

“Well, that’s certainly a factor,” said Adrian Hanauer, general manager and part owner. “Obviously it depends a little bit on what game, what team they’re bringing up. But leave the why-it-hasn’t-happened aside. We had a council meeting earlier, and we heard people loud and clear. We hear this group. We are actively in conversations with U.S. Soccer.

“Again, going back to maybe another reason why it hasn’t happened, we don’t just want to bring any old game here. If we bring a game, we want it to have some meaning and be a game that our fans are really going to enjoy, and not just be a money grab for U.S. Soccer. That is something that we’re working on, and with a little bit of luck and some hard work, we might have something that we can hopefully hang out hats on in the near future here.”

That appears to be an indication that CenturyLink Field is in the mix to be a host venue for upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers, which continue next year as the U.S. men look to lock up a spot in the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

Majority owner Joe Roth was a little more specific.

“If the U.S. men’s national team wants to come here with the first team and play a World Cup qualifier against a great team, we’ll be right there,” he said.

So does Seattle have a chance? That’s ultimately up to U.S. Soccer, and federation Sunil Gulati talked with Grant Wahl about possible venues in this FOX Soccer clip (also posted below, question raised at the 2:25 mark).

Here’s what Gulati said when asked about candidate cities for the upcoming qualifiers:

“I don’t think there will be any surprise. We’ve gone and been very successful into a number of places. We’ve done well in Columbus. Kansas City has got an extraordinary venue. We’ve played in Salt Lake and done well. Denver has been a good venue for us. We’ve played in Philadelphia.

“Because of the development of MLS venues, we now are in a situation where we can go into stadiums that are the perfect size for us, ensure that we’re going to have a home crowd, with a perfect playing surface and all the amenities that fans would want in today’s age. So I think you’ll see us play at a number of MLS venues. It won’t be exclusively that, but I think you’ll see mostly MLS venues.”

Mention of perfect playing surfaces doesn’t quite apply to CenturyLink Field, as noted earlier, though there were images of the stadium used in the clip during Gulati’s answer.

Indications have been that sites won’t be determined until 2013, but it certainly appears that Seattle is at least in the discussion.

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Video: Gulati on new women’s league, US future


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