North Sound SeaWolves coach Alex Silva admits he doesn’t know a lot about the Abbotsford Mariners, but one thing he does know is his team has a solid chance at picking up its first ever win when the teams meet today.
The game is 4 p.m. at Bateman Park in Abbotsford, B.C.
While North Sound sits in fifth place in the Premier Development League Northwest Division standings at 0-2-2, Abbotsford is in last with a record of 0-2-1.
“It sounds like they are a young team with lots of energy,” Silva said. “We have to be cautious. We know that they are desperate for their first win, and so are we. There will be more pressure on their back as they are the one playing at home.”
Both North Sound and Abbotsford have struggled finding the back of the net.The SeaWolves have just two goals and the Mariners only one.
Silva welcomed back experienced attacking players Vini Oliveira and Todd Wallenius this week, though both will have to work to crack the 18-man gameday squad that now is dominated by current college players. Ulate Ocampo and Jordan Correa are other options to see more time as North Sound tries to find more offense.
“We had a defensive tactic against Kitsap and against Abbotsford we’ll have an offensive team so I will be pulling out one of the defenders and inserting an offensive midfielder or forward to the lineup,” Silva said.
Silva said his team is mostly healthy. Starting midfielder Brady Ballew had blisters on his feet after playing all 90 minutes in last weekend’s loss to Kitsap and that caused him to miss practice this week but he should be available today. Defender Kainoa Owens had a lower back bruise after the Kitsap game but is recovered and available as well.
Kitsap makes US Open Cup
Speaking of Kitsap, the Pumas clinched the Northwest Division’s spot in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a 3-2 win over the Portland Timbers U-23’s Friday in Portland. The teams finished with identical 3-0-1 records in qualifying (the tie coming in the head-to-head matchup between them) and finished even in all tiebreakers, setting up the match.
Originally, the Open Cup spot was going to be decided by lottery at the league office but the league granted a request to have it settled on the field instead as part of the previously scheduled regular-season game.
This marks the third-straight year Kitsap has qualified for the Open Cup, the largest domestic soccer tournament in the country. The Pumas reached the second round last year and it marks the third-straight year that Portland narrowly missed qualifying.
The Cup begins June 14. The Seattle Sounders are the two-time defending champions.
Lazar tops in saves
North Sound keeper Claudio Lazar leads the Northwest Division with 19 saves, two ahead of Kitsap’s Bryan Meredith, a former Seattle Sounders draft pick. Meredith leads the league in goals against average (0.18) and shutouts (4). Pumas’ star Matt Friesen is tops in goals with five, one ahead of Portland’s Miles Byass, while 2010 PDL MVP Brent Richards of Portland has three goals. No one in the league has more than two assists while Friesen leads the league with 20 shots and his teammate, Nik Basagno, is by far the league leader in fouls with 13.
Pumas in first
Besides claiming the Open Cup berth, the Pumas sit atop the league standings with 17 points at 6-0-1. Portland, the defending PDL champion, is in second with 10 points at 3-2-1, followed by Vancouver (7 points), Victoria (5 points) and a three-way tie for fifth between North Sound, Tacoma and Washington (2 points).