The Kitsap Pumas, Washington (Redmond) Crossfire, North Sound SeaWolves and Tacoma Tide FC all have questions to answer and plans to finalize this offseason. The United Soccer Leagues AGM has been pushed back this year by over a month to December 15-18. We should have some news from the locals before then.
by David Falk
The United Soccer Leagues usually holds its AGM (Annual General Meeting) in November. This year the event is scheduled the week before Christmas. It will be held in Clearwater Beach, Florida.
The annual gathering features a combination of business and social activities including operational, educational and scheduling meetings, as well as annual team and executive awards presentations and the USL Hall of Fame dinner. The Clearwater Beach setting will likely provide a getaway for families and a welcome escape from winter for the representatives of USL’s professional and amateur clubs that will attend from throughout North America.
“The USL AGM is by far our most important event of the year and provides us with a crucial opportunity to work with our teams to continue to stay at the forefront in all aspects of league operations in preparation for the 2012 seasons,” USL CEO Alec Papadakis said. “We’re happy to provide USL’s team executives and coaches with a beautiful location to enjoy during the downtime with their families away from the meetings.”
Locally the Premier Development League Northwest Division (of the USL) is standing tall after producing the last two national champions (Portland Timbers U23’s in 2010, Kitsap Pumas in 2011). It looks like all four of Washington state’s PDL sides, all in the greater Puget Sound region, will be returning in 2012.
Here’s a summary of what I’ve heard about our clubs so far this off-season:
The Tide made it clear that they need financial help if they are to continue. The club hopes to have some kind of official announcement in this regard in the next week or so. After a season in which the side won only one match and changed home stadiums midstream, it would be welcomed news to hear that more investors are onboard. Expect the club to return in some form in the South Sound in 2012, but don’t be surprised if there are also a few changes, perhaps in playing venue, or even branding/name, before the new year kicks off.
The Kitsap Pumas rose to the top of the entire heap in 2011, bringing the state of Washington its first PDL national title winner. The trophy had no sooner been raised than the club was dealing with the departure of its general manager and more recently of its head coach. Meanwhile, it seems a core group of players might have set off to new adventures with the idea of not returning.
Kitsap will still field an indoor side this winter, but they have scaled back from the PASL-Pro to the PASL-Premier, and in the process cut their season to just four home indoor matches.
The insider choice to replace head coach Pete Fewing would seem to be three-year assistant James Ritchie. He’s already on the club payroll and has been gathering experience as head coach at both South Kitsap High School and Olympic College.
The Pumas are at a certain sort of crossroads this offseason. Despite winning a national title the club has not met attendance goals. Some fans are wondering about the Pumas continuing their efforts to run a “professional” club, and pay players. It’s either / or. PDL sides can’t pay some players while at the same time using amateurs who maintain college / NCAA eligibilty on the same roster.
Will the Pumas maintain their ‘pro’ advantage in 2012, or might they look to the colleges to stock the club? If so, how would they get those students to want to spend the summer on the peninsula?
In my most-recent email with club GM Gary Whitehouse he indicated the side were already recruiting for the 2012 campaign. Crossfire are currently looking for internship applicants for 2012 and have tentatively scheduled a tryout session for December.
The SeaWolves have been the one of the most publicly active local PDL sides this offseason. They debuted a new club crest as well as announced that they will be on the move in 2012. North Sound is taking their home season from Everett to Edmonds.