1999 Jul 11

Based on the Sounders news release:


The Seattle Sounders today announced a dynamic and expansive affiliation with SV Werder Bremen of the 1 Bundesliga (German 1st division). The relationship between the two teams will include a player exchange program, youth camps and clinics, coaching camps and clinics, matches between the Sounders and Bremen and the exchange of information and materials. This agreement is the most extensive of any US-based professional soccer team with a German team.

One of the key aspects of the relationship is a player exchange program. There will be an exchange of players with both teams eventually sending players to the other team. Werder Bremen has started the exchange by sending over a top young talent, Alexander Nouri. Nouri, 19, joined the Sounders today on loan for the reaminder of the 1999 season. The midfielder will be eligible to play for Seattle once his P-1 visa is completed.

Another component of the affiliation is the youth camps and clinics that will be organized by the Sounders and Werder Bremen. The camps and clinics will be held in Seattle later this summer and will give the top young soccer players in the state of Washington and around the US a chance to be evaluated under the eye of Bremen coaches and scouts.

The Sounders and Bremen will also have coaching clinics later this summer. Werder Bremen coaches will come to Seattle and work with interested coaches. The clinic will instruct coaches and interested parties about the German methods and systems of coaching.

This affiliation was put together by the Sounders CEO Neil Farnsworth during the month of June. Farnsworth traveled to Germany, meeting with Werder Bremen's management to finalize the deal. Some of the final details were ironed out when the Werder Bremen Youth Director Wolf Werner and North American Scouting Director Al Lahib arrived in Seattle yesterday.

"This is a landmark agreement between a US and a German soccer club," said Farnsworth. "This relationship not only benefits the Sounders and Werder Bremen but also the Seattle area and state of Washington soccer players and coaches. This is a dynamic agreement that the Seattle soccer community will be a part of."

Other plans between the two clubs include a trip by the Sounders over to Germany this fall for matches against Werder Bremen and possibly other clubs in and around Germany.

One important reason for the affiliation is that both teams rely on the development of talent within their systems rather than acquiring a lot of free agents. Werder Bremen have long been known for developing players at their acadamies in Germany and now look to expand their player pool into the US. The Werder Bremen organization to develop players has a complete youth system starting from the under-6 kids to the adult team.

"We are committed to youth development," said Al Lahib, Werder Bremen's North American Scout. "Our acadamies start from U-6 and continue to our top team. We have a total program for the development of soccer players on and off the field. Our acadamies have a commitment to education. We provide our soccer players schooling and services including a scholarship program if needed."

Werder Bremen was founded in 1899, with the team just completing their one-hundredth year of soccer. The team plays in the German 1 Bundesliga, which is one of the top leagues in the world. Bremen in June won the German Cup for the fourth time (1961, 1991, 1994, 1999), defeating Bayern Munich in the finals. The German Cup is similar in format to the US Open Cup. Bremen has won German League Championships in 1965, 1988 and 1993. Werder Bremen were European Cup Winners' Cup Champions in 1992. The team will compete in the 1999-2000 UEFA Cup, which is one of the top tournament competitions for club teams in the world of soccer.

The Seattle Sounders also have a history of success. The current ownership group, Scott Oki and Neil Farnsworth, reformed the Sounders in 1994. The Sounders won A-League Championships in 1995 and 1996 and also were regular season champions in 1994. The Sounders have made the playoffs every year of their existence, dating back to the original Sounders team (1974-1983). Seattle has a reputation of developing talent. The Sounders are well known in soccer for placing more players in Major League Soccer than any other A-League team. There have been 14 Sounders players who are now on or have been on MLS teams.

"We are consistently a top team in the A-League and players around the US know that," said Sounders Head Coach Neil Megson. "The Sounders reputation for developing talent will improve even more with this relationship with Werder Bremen."

Other details: