February 21, 2023
OLYMPIA, WA – The Oly Town Artesians announced Tuesday morning that USL Soccer will come to South Sound Stadium in the heart of Olympia and Lacey this summer. The move marks a large venue change for the club as it prepares for the states first ever USL W League team to compete in summer 2023. The W League is the highest level of path to professional soccer for women in the United States.
USL (United Soccer League) also announced 2023 USL League Two and USL W League schedules. Oly Town is slated to host five USL women’s matches in Olympia, WA as the league is comprised of current college players, former professional and in some instances elite level youth. The men’s side who are in their second year of existence has six USL home matches in Thurston County featuring teams from Eugene, Portland, Salem and in-state rival Ballard FC.
Oly Town is a Thurston County based soccer club that was formed in 2014 first as a semi-pro arena men’s soccer team. Since inception the club has grown to offer men’s and women’s elite level outdoor soccer, arena soccer and youth soccer camps. Their name, the “Artesians” (are-TEE-shuns) derives from the magical waters that bubble up into downtown Olympia and are known for making the region’s top beer, including the historic and now defunct Olympia Beer. Notably, these waters also supply club sponsor partner, Well 80 Brewouse, who has their own artesian well on-site and continues to make “well-made beer” daily for the region.
Oly Town signed their first USL franchise in January 2022 with USL League Two when Kasey Keller, former United States Men’s National Team goalkeeper and Seattle Sounder helped announce the clubs promotion to USL. Keller himself, a native of Lacey, WA attended North Thurston High School before heading to the University of Portland and a long professional soccer career.
USL W League (Women’s Soccer)
2023 marks a new era in women’s soccer especially in this fast growing path to professional USL W League which allows top collegiate women to compete without breaking amateur status. Most of the women competing in the USL W League will go professional within a few years of playing.
“There’s an excellent chance our kid’s and community will be able to see the next generation of soccer stars now minutes from our homes” said Principal Owner Ryan Perkins. “You go back to Jordan Morris and DeAndre Yedlin playing in an exhibition match in this league in Tumwater years ago and now they’re playing at the highest levels of soccer with the United States Men’s National Team, MLS and major international soccer clubs. Now Olympia has their own team to rally around.”
Oly Town already has a large book of signings slated to come to Olympia May through July with Hayden Crowley from University of Washington, Alex Schoenstadt from the University of Utah, Kelsey Kwon from Northwestern University and Katie O’Kane also from Utah. All are top division one athletes competing now for Oly Town in the W League. Schoenstadt has been listed on previous preseason OL Reign rosters lining up next to Megan Rapinoe and listed as a United States National Pool Player on the University of Utah player bio.
The club’s first ever signing was University of Washington forward Hayden Crowley who graces the USL 2023 schedule poster. Crowley was a Gatorade Player of the Year and comes with crucial division one experience. “It’s super exciting to already have a big signing like Hayden” said Assistant W League Coach Rachel Ross. “It’s a testament to the club’s recruitment efforts and the excitement of bringing the USL W League to the Pacific Northwest.”
Chris Wells, W League Head Coach has been busy recruiting and is looking forward to the 2023 season, “USL is a well-known soccer entity in the US and will provide further opportunities for women who are looking to play at the highest level or professionally in the future. The more opportunities for this, the better and it’s been too long since we last saw USL women’s soccer in this region.”
Oly Town opens their first ever USL Women’s match on Mother’s Day 2023, May 14 to mark the beginning of a new era of women’s soccer in the state of Washington. The Artesians will be the first organization to field a USL women’s team in history.
“Being able to have our inaugural USL W match to be at home, on Mother’s Day is a dream” said Oly Town’s W League Manager Vanessa Crisp. “I couldn’t picture a more exciting way to kick off the season at home, where we can recognize women in our local soccer community.”
USL League Two (Men’s Soccer)
The men have a robust schedule playing an extra club than the W League including two crucial road games at in-state rival Ballard FC who play at Interbay Stadium in Seattle. Oly Town finished in fourth place in 2022 in their first year and has had considerable growth in the offseason adding 2020 MLS Cup Champion Coaching Analyst Liviu Bird to helm the men’s team.
“Coach Bird is currently recruiting at all levels including local, out of state and international athletes” said USL General Manager and Part Owner Jason Smith. “Coach Bird is looking to build not just a team with talented players but also looking for team with good chemistry.”
Coach Bird visited Olympia last Saturday at the most attended arena game in Artesian history and asked the crowd for help finding host families to provide one room for a traveling college player or pro. The ask is for May through July housing as the club looks to compete at the highest level in 2023. Information can be found at olytownfc.com and the benefits to hosting a player this summer.
A fun May 14th home opener is planned as a double header to lead into the much anticipated USL W League inaugural match. Fun Mother’s Day activities and promotions are planned and will be announced in April.
Oly Town head coaches hosting two tryouts that are invitation only, the USL women’s tryout is March 19th and the USL men are hosting two separate trials on April 1 and 2. Players looking to compete and tryout can fill out forms by heading to the USL pages at olytownfc.com.
New Stadium Experience
The club announcing South Sound Stadium as the new venue gives Oly Town 1,500 more seats than their previous field and will feature an array of food and drink options as well as a unique seating experience. The stadium is located at Martin Way and Sleater Kinney right off Interstate 5. Oly Town plans on having a kid’s zone at each match to make events more all ages friendly.
“Celebrate with your whole family!” said Operations Director Pat Hutnick regarding the new season and stadium experience. “Kids can get their face painted, play in the fun zone, or participate in the half time competitions. Meet and get autographs from your favorite Oly Town players.”
Support Oly Town Soccer
Season ticket packages are available which include league specific options as well as bundles and special new color kit additions. Oly Town operates solely off ticket, apparel income as well as generous local sponsors in return for sports marketing opportunities. The Artesians are in need of new sponsors as seen from posts recently for travel van and title stadium sponsors. Information on these and more can be found at olytownfc.com.
Stay tuned for more USL player signings by following Oly Town FC on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Consider donating and buying gear to support this local USL soccer club. Oly Town features many amazing local businesses as they bring people from around the nation to Thurston County.
Photographs: Nate Burgher
Season Posters: Oly Town FC