2000 Apr 21

From today's Sounders news release:


A new era in women's soccer in Seattle starts now with the launch of the Seattle Sounders Select Women. The Select Women are an amateur team that will showcase the quality women soccer players who live in the Pacific Northwest. The team will be comprised of the top college, high school, and post college players.

The Select Women will play in a provisional Pacific Northwest Division of the W-League. The W-League is a women's league in the United Soccer Leagues (USL). There are currently 36 teams playing in the W1 and W2 divisions. The Select have the intention of joining the W-League as full-fledged members in 2001. Other teams in the Pacific Northwest Division are the Vancouver Lady 86ers, Spokane Chill and the Portland Rain.

Chance Fry is the inaugural coach of the new Sounders Select women's team. Chance has a distinguished resume in the soccer community as a coach and a former professional player. He played for the Sounders in the 1980's and 1990's. He was an important contributor to Seattle's "back to back" championships in 1995 and 1996. Chance also played with the New York Cosmos and the US National Team. His coaching background has developed through his own personal clinics and training, select team coaching and Bellevue Community College's inaugural women's soccer program. Chance has a USSF National "B" coaching license.

As a player, Chance was a first round draft choice of the Seattle Sounders in 1982. He went on to play for several teams, including the New York Cosmos, San Francisco Bay Blackhawks and again with the Seattle Sounders from 1994 to 1998. Fry is a former player with the US Men's National Team and currently is on the US Men's 35 and over National Team. Chance is also Youth Development Director for the new Sounders United FC Youth Development Program.

"It has been the goal of ownership to establish a women's team for a while," said Fry. "The formation of the Select demonstrates the commitment to develop a European-style club concept for women in the Puget Sound area. We are very excited about this opportunity as it will create opportunities for women soccer players that weren't there before."

The Select Women will play their home matches as part of doubleheaders with Seattle Sounders matches at Seattle Memorial Stadium. There is a 10-match exhibition season with the first game on June 10 at the Spokane Chill. The season will run through the end of August, with the last match being August 26 at Seattle Memorial Stadium. The full schedule will be announced later.

Select players will have matches against top-class competition, two to three practices and matches a week, premier match and training gear, with deluxe travel and travel expenses. An added bonus for Select players is an affiliation with Germany's Frauen-Bundesliga (Premier Women's League). This agreement allows for player exchanges and possible friendly matches.

"The Northwest is an area we've been looking to expand the W-League into for many years," said USL Associate Commissioner Dave Askinas. "It's a region rich in soccer talent and tradition, both in men's and women's play. With Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and Spokane, we believe we have put together the elements of a division that can succeed both financially and in terms of playing talent."

The W-League is split into two levels, the 16-team W1-League, and the 20-team W2-League. The four provisional teams in the Pacific Northwest Division exist independently of that structure for now. However, following a review by Select ownership and approval by the USL and W-League members, the team will be eligible for inclusion in W-League for the 2001 season part of as a new expansion division. The Select women's program will fit into the new European club concept being developed by the Sounders.