Pumas In Vital Match Against Division Co-Leader Portland Tomorrow Night
Bremerton, Wash. – With sole possession of first place going to the winner, the Kitsap Pumas and Portland Timbers U23 have plenty of incentive as they prepare to face each other for the first time this season.
The pair of undefeated clubs from the Premier Development League’s Northwest Division will square off at 7 p.m. Saturday at Hare Field in Hillsboro, Ore.
Both teams are coming off decisive victories.
The Pumas (5-0-0) defeated the Abbotsford Mariners 4-1 last weekend in a game that saw Kitsap goalkeeper Dustyn Brim allow his first goal of the season, snapping a nearly 400-minute shutout streak. Portland (5-0-0), meanwhile, beat the Victoria Highlanders 4-nil to secure their longest winning streak in club history.
It was a busy week for the Pumas, who on this past Wednesday, learned they will host the Bay Area Ambassadors FC in the opening round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup June 15.
This is the second-consecutive season the Pumas have qualified for the 40-team Cup and hosted a first-round game. Last year they lost to the Portland Timbers of the USL First Division, 3-0, in a game that was closer than the score indicated.
“We’re thrilled to bring this match to Kitsap,” said owner Robin Waite. “The Ambassadors are a quality team and we look forward to playing them and hopefully moving on to the second round for the first time.”
But the Pumas aren’t looking past a Timbers U23 squad that has outscored its opponents 13-1, the second-best goal differential in the division behind none other than Kitsap (16-1).
Although one team will no longer be untied and unbeaten after the weekend, the Pumas have reason to be confident entering their most difficult match of the season. One of those reasons is midfielder David Gray, a first-year player from Scotland who has two goals and an assist over the past two games.
Gray became the second Kitsap player in as many weeks to earn a position on the PDL Team of the Week. Defender Mark Lee earned the same honor last week after scoring the go-ahead goal in a 2-0 victory over the Washington Crossfire.
“He’s a terrific player,” Kitsap coach Peter Fewing said of Gray. “He’s a hardworking, blue-collar kind of player. He’s a competitor.”
The competition Saturday figures to be as good as it has been all season as Kitsap and Portland vie for the inside track to a league title. The Pumas won the crown in 2009 in their inaugural season.
Kitsap also is on the road next weekend, visiting the Mariners, and won’t return home until the June 15 Cup game, scheduled for 7 p.m.
All Pumas matches this season are broadcast live on KITZ AM 1400. The broadcast can be heard on the station’s website or over the air. Each Thursday night on KITZ at 7 p.m.
Visit www.brownpapertickets.com to purchase tickets, or contact club headquarters at (360) 377-6008.