As the club from Bremerton makes its way over to Starfire to face Seattle Sounders FC this is a battle of brothers, not just Daniel and Zach Scott, but a big city versus the towns where the Kitsap Pumas roam. These are not separate fanbases, and in some ways barely separate clubs. There are overlaps in players, staff (hey Pete Fewing!) and even the owners know each other as Adrian and Robin Waite have relationships from the USL days.
In this environment the two sides meet for the first official time in the Third Round of the US Open Cup. Seattle has back-to-back Cups and has used this tournament as a path to the CONCACAF Champions League, but as seems typical in Third Round matches, this is the biggest match of the year. David Falk (in some ways the godfather of SaH) over at www.GoalWA.net gives us some insight into the Pumas via three questions.
SaH: Kitsap Pumas owner Robin Waite has had an aggressive vision of what the team can become. How is that journey going over in the West Sound?
GoalWA: On the pitch things are going well for the Pumas. In the stands, it is a much slower build. The club are annual contenders in the PDL NW for both the division, playoffs and national title. They also have made the US Open Cup all three years the side have existed, advancing one step farther each year. Attendance is going the other direction, though. The club admittedly flooded the market with freebies in 2009 when they averaged 1,200 per match. In 2010 it dropped to just under 800, and this year in league matches the club is down to around 550. The last USOC match drew nearly 1,300, though. The Pumas want to be in a higher league, but right now so such league exists with a division in this region.
SaH: Many Sounders fans pay a bit of attention to the team as there are some connected (USL, trialists, draftees) players there. Who is the best of these?
GoalWA: Bryan Meredith is the stand out, in goal. No wonder the Sounders wanted him to "stay close" even though they didn't sign him. Poise, positioning and purpose. The rest of the roster has guys who want to, and have tried, to play at higher levels, but have eventually come back to Bremerton. Dan Scott (Zach's brother) and Tye Perdido have the size to play up. They are still working on refining their skills.
Cameron Hepple is dangerous on the wing. Matt Friesen is a free kick specialist who also brings size to the midfield. Nik Besagno is the engine, the working heart of the Pumas' midfield. The back line is great by PDL standards, and includes Scott along with Steve Mohn, Taylor Hyde and Mark Lee. These guys are all in their mid 20's, and it is too bad we don't have a NASL club locally, because they are all good enough to be second division guys. Do they have MLS potential? It's late in most of their careers to think so. David Gray is a Scottish midfielder with a nice touch. Warlen Silva is a Brazilian attacker who is sneaky quick.
SaH: Of the players not connected to Seattle who will cause Seattle's reserves the most trouble?
GoalWA: The Sounders will need to avoid giving up free kicks in the attackingend, as Matt Friesen is very capable of converting them. Cameron Hepple has been on a roll for the club lately, both assisting and scoring goals. Oregon State's Robby Christner is small, but has an accurate shot.
SaH: Though the Pumas have a game Wednesday, the Open Cup match has to see their first team play right?
GoalWA: Of course. They have all but wrapped up the PDL NW and a playoff spot. For the Pumas it is all about Tuesday.