We will know a lot more about the 2011 Tide around this time next week. Since opening the season on May 13 at Stadium Bowl with a 2:2 draw against North Sound the South Sound Yellows have been practicing, trying to make the most of a ten day break between matches. The break is over, and this week the Tide have three contests that will decide their United States Open Cup fate as well as their early-season contention for a division playoff spot.
Against this week’s foes the Tide are a combined one win, four ties and seven losses in their history. The Yellows have three ties and a win all-time against Washington Crossfire (formerly Seattle Wolves.) Tacoma has one tie and three losses all time against the Kitsap Pumas. The Tide are winless in four matches against the Portland Timbers U23s.
United States Open Cup Berth Race
Tacoma caught a break on Saturday night when the Pumas and Timbers U23s played to a 0:0 draw in Bremerton. It put the ability to win the single Northwest Division Open Cup berth back in the Tide’s hands.
All three Tide matches this week count towards the race to qualify for the USOC. Right now Kitsap and Portland are tied for the lead with four points on two matches. North Sound has two points after two matches while Tacoma has a single point but three matches to play.
The Tide have a chance to claim their first-ever USOC berth in their sixth season. At the very least, Tacoma will play a major role in deciding who does eventually get in.
MONDAY: At Washington Crossfire, Redmond, 7 PM
Former Sounder, Sounders coach and current Crossfire Premier Director of Coaching (DOC) Bernie James is the new head coach of the Redmond-based Washington Crossfire this year. This is the third year in the PDL for the team, which played as the “Seattle Wolves” in 2009. It has been a slow start for Washington, who drew 0:0 at North Sound but then became whipping boys for Kitsap (3:0) and Portland (0:6). James has had over a week to regroup and it seems likely that the Crossfire club that Tacoma faces at 7 PM on Monday May 23 at Redmond High School will be a different side than the division has seen play so far.
FRIDAY: Kitsap Pumas and the Narrows Bell at Stadium Bowl, 7 PM
The Narrows Bridge Bell was founded in 2009 to acknowledge the short distance between the Tide and their biggest rivals, the Kitsap Pumas. The Pumas have taken the season series, and thus the Bell, both years (2009, 2010). This promises to be the biggest Bell match yet, with both sides still harboring USOC berth dreams.
The Pumas feature a handful of former Tide players, including Steve Mohn, Mark Lee, Nik Besagno and Dan Scott. The Tide have in the past gotten players ’back’ from the Pumas, such as Mark Conrad (not currently with Tacoma) and Spencer Schomaker (doubtful due to injury.)
The Pumas are undefeated and in first place in the Northwest Division with three wins and a tie. The Yellows have never beaten Kitsap in four matches, getting just a draw in the very first encounter in 2009, and three losses since. The matches in Tacoma have been close, one goal affairs.
The May 27 home match against Kitsap is also “Pierce County Soccer Referee Association (PCSRA) Night at the Tide.” All referees wearing their uniforms will be admitted free with a guest in honor of the work they do for soccer in South Sound.
Tickets are available in advance at www.BrownPaperTickets.com
SUNDAY: at Portland Timbers U23s, Clackamas, 5 PM
The toughest week in Tide history ends six days after it will have started with a visit to Oregon to tackle the defending national champion Portland Timbers U23s at Clackamas High School.
The Timbers feature University of Washington forward Brent Richards and some of the best college talent in the country.
The Timbers will have had an eight-day rest going into the contest.
The Yellows have never beaten the Timbers, but they have been close every time. All four matches were one-goal losses for the Tide, including last year’s match that ended 2:1 Portland at Curtis High School on a late penalty kick.