It looks as though the talk of the Sounder U-23 team playing at Curtis High was premature.
According to a follow-up report today from Don Ruiz of The News Tribune, the team had to list Curtis, the former home of the Tacoma Tide.
The United Soccer League’s recently released schedule listed Curtis High School as the home venue. However, I have received word from the club — formerly Tacoma Tide FC — that the USL required a placeholder for the venue, so they listed Curtis (their primary home over their first six season). However, the club continues to look for a Pierce County pitch to call home.
So, it looks like I spoke too soon about the Sounders FC playing here. I apologize for that. I'll keep you updated on where the team decides to play.
While the pros for Major League Soccer's Sounders FC will continue roaming the pitch at CenturyLink Field, the club's developmental team, Sounders FC U-23, will be playing its home matches at Curtis High this season.
As first reported Tuesday by South Sound soccer guru Don Ruiz of The News Tribune, the team formerly known as the Tacoma Tide FC released its 2012 Premier Developmental League (PDL) schedule. It's unclear whether Curtis is a long-term home or not.
Sounders FC U-23 will play eight matches in Viking Stadium, including five in the first half of June and the final two matches of the season.
For those who aren't familiar with the tiered system of football, er, soccer in these parts, the PDL is the most elite level of amateur soccer in the United Soccer Leagues system, which is the highest level of organized football behind Major League Soccer. The USL operates a professional league that's the biggest behind the MLS in terms of size, as well as a professional indoor and women's soccer league.
The former Tacoma Tide FC of the PDL had operated from 2006 to last year. That's when Pierce County business leaders Lane Smith and Cliff McElroy bought the team — establishing the official affiliation with the MLS Sounders FC - along with the Sounders Women franchise, which recently signed U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper and former University of Washington star Hope Solo.
"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," Smith said on the team's website. "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.
Added Sounders FC General Manager Chip Hanauer: "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. 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 Sounders FC U-23 team is part of the PDL's Western Division and will continue to play such teams as the Bremerton-based Kitsap Pumas and the Redmond-based Washington Crossfire, as well as fellow MLS-associated clubs Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23's.
The team will also learn from someone who knows a thing or two about the Beautiful Game. Darren Sawatzky, a former MLS player and USL coach who was in charge of the Sounders FC Youth Development program, will be the team's head coach.
"Coaching the Sounders FC U-23s is an exciting opportunity for me," the Federal Way native said on the team's website. "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."
Here's the full schedule for the Sounders FC U-23:May 11 Friday 7:30 p.m. Whitecaps U-23 Swangard Stadium May 12 Saturday 7 p.m. Victoria Royal Athletic Park May 19 Saturday 7 p.m. Kitsap Bremerton Memorial Stadium May 25 Friday 7:30 p.m. Victoria Curtis High May 27 Sunday 2 p.m. Fraser Valley Bateman Park June 2 Saturday 6 p.m. Timbers U-23's Curtis High June 3 Sunday 5 p.m. Whitecaps U-23's Curtis High June 8 Friday 7:30 p.m. Washington Curtis High June 10 Sunday 2 p.m. North Sound Curtis High June 15 Friday 7:30 p.m. Kitsap Curtis High June 22 Friday 7:30 p.m. Timbers U-23's Kiggins Bowl June 29 Friday 7:30 p.m. North Sound Edmonds Woodway High July 1 Sunday 5 p.m. Washington Redmond High July 6 Friday 7:30 p.m. Kitsap Bremerton Memorial Stadium July 8 Sunday 2 p.m. Fraser Valley Curtis High July 11 Wednesday 7:30 p.m. North Sound Curtis High