Expect another Sounders attendance record

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comJanuary 24, 2013 

Sounders FC season-ticket renewals are going so well that the club thinks it can set a Major League Soccer attendance record for a fifth straight season, general manager Adrian Hanauer said Wednesday.

The current MLS season home-attendance record is 43,144 per game, set by Seattle in 2012.

The club hopes to improve on that without altering its basic seating configuration at CenturyLink Field.

“The way to incrementally potentially keep increasing our average is we can open up more games for the whole stadium,” Hanauer said. “So that might be a route to go, rather than try to peel away two rows of seats around the stadium.”

The club will use the full 67,000 capacity for four league games, after doing so for three matches in 2012. Those games haven’t been announced, but Hanauer said they will not simply be the four Cascadia Cup home matches: two each against Portland and Vancouver.

This is the first season that the Sounders aren’t including at least one international friendly as part of the season-ticket package. However, such a game might still

be scheduled.

“We’re in conversations with clubs,” Hanauer said. “But again, not having the pressure of being forced to do one because of a ticket in the ticket package, it’s given us more time to step back and again talk about it from a technical standpoint, what’s good for the club, and talk about it from the business standpoint.”

Hanauer’s comments came on a day filled with local and national soccer news.

SOUNDERS SCRIMMAGE

The Sounders held their first 11-on-11 full-field scrimmage of preseason training.

Coach Sigi Schmid filled one team with veterans and the other with newcomers.

The veteran first 11 were goalkeeper Michael Gspurning; defenders Zach Scott, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Leo Gonzalez; midfielders Mauro Rosales, Andy Rose, Osvaldo Alonso and Steve Zakuani; and forwards David Estrada and Babayele Sodade.

“You could see the difference, obviously, between our players and the trialists – which is also a good thing,” Schmid said. “… Steve Zakuani, he had some good moments in the game. I thought David Estrada had some good moments as well. Baba got pushed into service with Sammy Ochoa being sick, and he did well. Rosales, the midfield, Andy Rose – overall I thought it was a good performance from a lot of people.”

GOLD CUP RETURNS

CenturyLink Field was selected as one of 13 host venues for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the top tournament of national teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

Seattle also played host to Gold Cup matches in 2005 and 2009.

Specific dates will be announced later, however the tournament runs from July 7-28.

“We were involved, but really it was more of the U.S. Soccer-CenturyLink Field discussion,” Hanauer said. “But we are very involved in discussions regarding a (World Cup) qualifier. … A qualifier, you just don’t get that many opportunities to host a qualifier, so that was something that we prioritized.”

U.S. Soccer has indicated that Seattle is among the U.S. cities being considered to host the men’s national team in a World Cup qualifier this summer.

DEVELOPMENT TIES

MLS announced it has reached a multi-year partnership agreement that will allow interleague play between USL PRO and MLS Reserve League teams and establish club affiliations in which each MLS parent club will loan at least four players to its USL PRO affiliate.

“This partnership represents the first step in a long-term alliance between MLS and USL PRO to connect domestic professional soccer through a system that benefits player development, competition and the overall business of our sport,” MLS executive Todd Durbin said through a press release.

More information is expected today.

REIGN AT STARFIRE

Seattle Reign FC of the National Women’s Soccer League announced it will play its inaugural season at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.

Season tickets go on sale at 9 a.m. today at SeattleReignFC.com. The NWSL schedule has not been released.

“Starfire just offered the best combination of attributes for us,” owner Bill Predmore said. “… When the place it packed, it is a pretty amazing place to see a match. It feels about right for us, for what we might expect in terms of attendance.”

Starfire also is home to the W-League Sounders Women, some Sounders U-23 matches and for Sounders FC in U.S. Open Cup.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer/ @donruiztnt

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