In its first season of existence, FC Tacoma 253 has managed to qualify for the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup by defeating fellow NPSL sides Spartans Futbol Club (based in Portland) and San Diego Flash. FC Tacoma is one of 12 NPSL clubs entering the nation's oldest soccer competition this year, with each team entering in the first round.
FC Tacoma was launched by Seattle-based OSA Soccer Academy founder Giuseppe Pezzano, who formed connections with ACF Fiorentina and the Montreal Impact through his work with OSA Soccer Academy. These connections have enabled the club to sign several players who have spent time in youth academies and the lower divisions in Italy. The club also recently added a pair of current University of Washington players.
Although the team recorded a pair of wins in Open Cup qualification, it has struggled in league play in its first NPSL season. Through seven games, FC Tacoma only has four points with five games remaining in the season.
In stark contrast to the new faces in Tacoma, Kitsap Pumas appear in the Open Cup for the fifth time in club history, although the Pumas have been absent from the past two tournaments. FC Tacoma is in the middle of its league season, but Kitsap is just gearing up for their 2015 PDL campaign, which begins this weekend as they travel to Eugene to face Lane United.
Kitsap is one of the only clubs in the PDL that is fully professional. Most teams in the league maintain amateur status so they can sign current college players. Because of this, Kitsap has been able to attract players attempting to launch their pro soccer careers that teams in MLS, NASL, and USL may have overlooked. Several players have managed to turn their time at the club into pro careers in USL, NASL, and MLS, and a few now play professionally in the Bahamas, Armenia, and El Salvador. Another former player is now a writer for Sports Illustrated.
The match kicks off at 7:00 PM at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma. Tickets are selling online for $8 for adults and $4 for youth. The winner will face Seattle Sounders FC 2 next Wednesday at Starfire. If you can't make it to the match, Sonar Feed will have a live stream on its Ustream channel.