Seattle Sounders FC will play a Major League Soccer Reserve League match May 12 at Cheney Stadium.
If the venue works and the fans turn out, Tacoma could be on its way to becoming the permanent home of a USL Pro soccer team affiliated with the MLS Sounders.
“Sounders FC will eventually have an operating partner in the USL,” Sounders minority owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer said in a news release. “The city of Tacoma would be a fantastic location for us, and this game will give us a chance to test the market.”
Fan interest and Cheney Stadium’s suitability as a soccer venue will be closely watched when the Sounders’ reserves meet Orlando City SC of USL Pro at 4 p.m. May 12. The game previously had been scheduled for Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.
The Sounders U-23 Premier Development League team played two games at Cheney Stadium last season, but this will be different in several ways.
The pitch will run from home plate down the third-base line, creating better sight lines. Sod will be brought in to cover the dirt infield, and the quality on the pitch should be considerably better.
“This could be a pro experience,” said Lane Smith, owner of the Sounders U-23 and Sounder Women’s USL teams. “The guys coming down will be on the big roster. … Probably over
$1 million of salaried players coming down to play.”
Tickets are available at tacomarainiers.com, through Ticketmaster or by calling 800-745-3000.
After the game, officials from the Sounders and Rainiers are expected to discuss whether to pursue an arrangement in soccer similar to the current baseball relationship between the Mariners and Rainiers.
“We’re very interested in making this Soccer City South if we can … and having some kind of partnership,” Rainiers president Aaron Artman said. “But it really depends on how this event goes and then down the road how the Sounders and their relationship with USL and where they want to play develops.
“I think everybody’s in with kind of open arms and open eyes.”
Forward David Estrada (eye) has been ruled out of the Sounders’ game Saturday at Colorado. Forwards Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins, and defender Patrick Ianni are listed as questionable. … The Rainiers announced they will host “Sounders Night” on July 25 at Cheney Stadium when they face the Tucson Padres. A Sounders FC player will throw out the first pitch, and the Rainiers will wear Sounders-green jerseys, which will be raffled to support Sounders FC charity partners.