The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
by David Falk
Have you ever watched a party from down the block? Ever had nosebleed seats where the players were ants? Ever thought for sure that the field you were watching was not chalked / marked evenly? Such were the cases on Friday night June 15th when the Sounders U-23′s hosted the Kitsap Pumas in an awkward setting before thousands of empty seats.
Premier Development League soccer drew 712 fans to Cheney Stadium on May 30th and then 968 on June 15th. The totals are higher than the Sounders U-23′s overall season average, but far less than the 1,300 who supported the club in a recent match at Tumwater High School.
The Sounders U-23′s search for a place to call home goes on. Perhaps they will continue to play at several locales just like the Timbers U-23′s do. In any case, my experience with Cheney for soccer was not a positive one. Kudos to the Sounders and Rainiers for trying this, but…
The sight lines are lousy, the field is subpar, and most of the place was closed for the event, save a few concession stands. The scoreboard had live video, but no replays. Rather than raise the fan experience with a professional stadium, the event served to distance fans and players and ugly-up the beautiful game.
It will be interesting to see whether the Rainiers and Sounders U-23′s are pleased enough with the 800+ fans average to plunk any future matches in the unsuitable venue.
What did Kitsap Pumas head coach James Ritchie have to say about playing on a baseball diamond?
“That is garbage,” Ritchie told the Kitsap Sun. “It’s dangerous. It’s not fun to play on. But I told the boys, ‘There are no excuses. If we don’t perform tonight, I’m not accepting that the field is a little dodgy.”
The Sounders U-23′s now embark on a four-match road tour. They return to Franklin Pierce High School to play the Fraser Valley Mariners on Sunday July 8 at 2 PM.
The Kitsap Pumas must endure one more crappy pitch, Sunday at Bateman Park in Abbotsford, before returning to host the Vancouver Whitecaps U-23′s at Bremerton Memorial Stadium on Friday, June 22.