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Thursday, January 24, 2013 - Page updated at 08:00 p.m.
Sounders will host Gold Cup games this summer, might still get World Cup qualifier
By Joshua Mayers
Seattle Times staff reporter
TUKWILA — International soccer is coming to Seattle.
It might not be the FIFA World Cup qualifier that many local fans are hoping for — that decision is yet to be made — but CenturyLink Field will host games for the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer.
The tournament for the best national teams in North/Central America and the Caribbean runs from July 7-28 and will be played in 13 cities across the country.
Seattle's selection isn't expected to affect its chances of hosting an important World Cup qualifier later this year. The Sounders have been in conversation with U.S. Soccer for months on that issue.
"You just don't get that many opportunities to host a qualifier," general manager Adrian Hanauer said, "so that is something that we've prioritized."
The Gold Cup games will be played on CenturyLink's artificial turf surface; no temporary grass will be installed.
It's worth noting that this year's Gold Cup won't carry the same weight as the 2011 tournament, whose winner qualified for the 2014 Confederations Cup in Brazil. As a result, many of the top teams in the region probably won't field their best players, instead focusing on World Cup qualifiers throughout the year.
Seattle, which hosted Gold Cup games in 2005 and 2009, isn't guaranteed of hosting a popular or late-round game.
Hanauer said season-ticket sales/renewals are above last year's pace. As of now, there aren't any plans to increase the stadium's estimated 38,500-seat configuration, but CenturyLink Field will be at full capacity (67,000) for four games this year.
Hanauer said he is hopeful the Sounders will surpass their MLS record for average attendance — 43,144, set last year — and said there hasn't been a decision as to whether the team will host an international friendly this season.
Reign to play
Reign FC finally has a home.
Seattle's National Women's Soccer League team announced Wednesday that its home venue for the season will be Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, where the Sounders play U.S. Open Cup games.
Season tickets for the new women's club go on sale at 9 a.m. Thursday at SeattleReignFC.com. Prices for the 13-game package (11 NWSL, two exhibitions) start at $195.
A league schedule is expected to be released in early to mid February, according to owner Bill Predmore. He added the team is also in "deep negotiations" with at least three free agents and could announce signings soon.
• MLS announced a multiyear partnership with USL PRO, a lower-tier league in American soccer, to operate essentially as MLS's reserve league. Many are deeming this one of the league's most progressive moves in aiding player development.
• Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso said he still has not heard from FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, regarding his eligibility for the U.S. men's national team. The Cuban defector, Seattle's three-time team MVP, earned American citizenship last year.
• Cordell Cato is listed on the preseason roster but hasn't joined the camp so far. Hanauer said the team is hopeful of bringing in the forward/midfielder, whose contract option wasn't picked up by the Sounders after last season, but an understanding has been reached between the two sides. Invitee midfielder Blair Gavin also has not reported to the team.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @joshuamayers
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