Seattle’s transition from a USL-1 team to an MLS team is fairly unique in American professional sports. Rarely does a team make a move that so similarly resembles promotion in the US.
But to find a parallel, one need look no further than Seattle University, who is making the transition from NCAA Division II athletics to NCAA Division I. While the process is much longer for the transition for Seattle U, they share similar optimism about the area’s ability to grow in the athletic circle. Seattle U now competes as Division I Independents, playing a hybrid Division I schedule while observing Division I rules. They will move to a full Division I schedule in 2009-2010, and the men's and women's soccer teams will enjoy "fast-track" status and be eligible for NCAA postseason competition in the fall of 2010.
“We are filling a niche that is needed in Seattle,” said Seattle U soccer coach Brad Agoos. “UW is great, but this is too strong an area to have just one D-1 team here. It’s exciting. We have a great school in a great area. We’re poised to do pretty well.”
Along with the attention being paid to the transition to D-1 sports, the Seattle U soccer program is getting a boost from the Sounders FC and Major League Soccer. Having an MLS team nearby creates another selling point for recruits who are more likely to be seen by scouts and will be more entrenched in a soccer community.
“There’s a lot of buzz around the city. People are excited and talking about it. It’s fantastic – just another great thing for the city,” said Agoos, who coached Sounders FC defender Tyson Wahl as an assistant with the University of California-Berkley. “It adds to what we offer at the school. Players want to be a part of the MLS. It was great at the USL-1 level, so having the MLS just raises the ante.”
Seattle U products Cam Weaver, Jason Cascio and John Fishbaugher all had experience at the USL level with the Sounders and Weaver is now signed by the San Jose Earthquakes in the MLS.
And while Agoos, who is in his third year as Redhawks coach, has a vested interest in Seattle soccer, his loyalties don’t lie exclusively with the Sounders FC. His older brother, Jeff Agoos, is the general manager of the New York Red Bulls, Seattle’s opening night opponent.
“I’m going to sit in the middle,” Brad said with a laugh about the opener.
Read more about Seattle University at www.goseattleu.com.