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Originally published Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 8:07 PM

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Sounders Women face uncertain future as either pro or amateur team

The Sounders Women want to participate at the highest level of women's soccer, particularly in a proposed pro league in 2013, but they're not alone.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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TUKWILA — The Sounders Women want to participate at the highest level of women's soccer.

That much is clear.

Not much else isdue to the fluctuating state of the women's game in this country. The most recent developments center on a proposed new professional league that would kick off in 2013, but those plans are still in the very early stages.

"We want to let our fans know that we are on the forefront of all the latest developments with the proposed new women's professional league ... and, of course, are an interested party," co-owner Lane Smith said at a Tuesday news conference.

The Sounders Women — who boasted national-team stars like Hope Solo and Alex Morgan this past year — aren't alone in the pursuit of a pro team in the proposed league, however. Local owner Bill Predmore, the founder and president of POP, a Seattle-based digital marketing agency, has been known to be interested since August.

Collaboration between the two groups is unlikely, as Smith said both sides "want to control their own destiny."

That means U.S. Soccer, which has taken a leading role in the development of a new league, will ultimately have to decide which owners would be awarded a pro franchise in Seattle.

"They are driving this ship," Smith said of the federation, which took a regulatory and sanctioning role in the previous two failures of women's pro leagues — the WUSA and WPS, which folded earlier this year.

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a Friday conference call that teams in the proposed league could be determined based on financial, operational, organizational and management guidelines by the end of the month. Gulati also mentioned that the United Soccer Leagues (USL) would be involved in the proposed management structure.

"A big part of our participation would be that the (national team) players would play in this league and perhaps be funded directly by U.S. Soccer," Gulati said on the conference call.

Solo, Morgan and the other national-team stars were not paid last season by the Sounders Women, which functioned as an amateur team.

Smith said that even if the Sounders Women do not participate in the proposed league, the team would return to the USL W-League next season and could function either as a pro or amateur team.

In other news, the Sounders Women announced that it has parted ways with general manager Amy Carnell, a decision that was made about two months ago. Smith, co-owner Cliff McElroy and director of communications Jon Billings will assume GM duties for now.

Carnell has since begun working with Predmore.

NOTES

Teddy Mitalas, a prominent figure in the Seattle soccer community, was introduced as director of community relations for the Sounders Women and Sounders FC U-23 (a Premier Development League team under the same ownership).

• An announcement on the future of coach Michelle French could come as soon as this week.

• The Sounders Women have a three-year contract with the W-League that would be voided if the team goes pro since the USL is part of the proposed structure.

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