2004 Jul 14

From today's Sounders news release:

Seattle Continues to Focus on MLS for 2006

(Seattle, Wash.) - - The Seattle Sounders continue their focus on bringing a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise to Seattle for the 2006 season.

Earlier today, MLS announced Salt Lake City as home to the league's 12th team beginning play in 2005 in the league's 10th season.

Officially out of the running for the 2005 MLS season, Seattle possibly finds itself at the top of MLS' list for expansion plans for 2006. The league's aggressive expansion campaign is scheduled to bring the number of teams in the league to 14 at the start of the 2006 season, with Seattle, Cleveland, San Antonio, Houston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Portland, Phoenix and Minneapolis all cited as potential homes.

MLS commissioner Don Garber has stated that the league's plan is to have 16 to 20 teams by 2010.

Current Seattle Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer leads an ownership group still fully committed to bringing MLS soccer to Seattle. By the end of the July, Hanauer and his group are considering purchasing an option that would secure the rights to a 2006 franchise.

"We have our work cut out for us," said Hanauer. "We need to concentrate on winning soccer games in 2004, we are focused on acquiring an MLS franchise for 2006, and we have to figure out what to do with the A-league team in 2005. July and August will be busy."

By looking at 2006, Hanauer and his group have more time to focus on building a fan base, securing sponsorship, and working on operational issues that come with running a MLS franchise.

In addition to the Salt Lake City franchise, a second MLS team will enter MLS as the league's 11th team. Owned and operated by CD Guadalajara (Chivas) owner Jorge Vergara, Chivas U.S.A. will join MLS in 2005, rumored to be headed to Los Angeles.