The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
The Premier Development League Northwest Division has rarely seen such a tight battle amongst so many clubs. On Friday night in Bremerton the Kitsap Pumas host the Sounders U-23′s in a match that will go a long way towards deciding who takes the 2012 division title.
by David Falk
There were two big off-season changes in the PDL NW. First, the Sounders came into the division with the U-23′s. Second, the owners got league approval to host an intradivision playoff set in which the first place regular season club matches up against the fourth, and the second against the third. See the league note on this below:
NorthWest Divisional Play-In Rounds:
The Northwest Play-In Round will begin on Saturday July 14th or Sunday July 15th. The top four regular season finishers will qualify for the Play-In Round. The #1 seed will host the #4 seed and the #2 seed will host the #3 seed. Each Winner will move on to the Conference Final Four (weekend of July 20th – 22nd).
We have several races to watch with the Northwest Division. Beyond who takes the top spot, there is also importance in who finishes second, as that club has the option of hosting their divisional playoff match. Then there is the battle for the fourth and final playoff spot. (Edit: as a reader points out in the comments section, the US Open Cup spots for 2013 also hang in the balance. This year the top two from each division were selected.)
Kitsap Pumas (2) - Sounders U-23′s, @ Timbers U-23′s
Sounders U-23′s (3) - @ Kitsap Pumas, Fraser Valley, North Sound
Timbers U-23′s (3) - Washington Crossfire, Kitsap Pumas, @ Washington Crossfire
Washington Crossfire (2) - @ Timbers U-23′s, Timbers U-23′s
Whitecaps U-23′s (3) - North Sound, Victoria, Fraser Valley
Handicapping the Field
The toughest remaining schedule is a toss-up between the Pumas and Crossfire. The good is that both of those clubs face fellow playoff chasers and can make their own destiny. The bad is that there is no let-up or feeding off of bottom clubs.
Meanwhile, look at the schedules of the Whitecaps U-23′s and Sounders U-23′s. In Vancouver’s case their lone “tough” match would seem to be when they host Victoria. For the Sounders it is Friday’s match at Kitsap.
How’s it going to finish?
Based on the remaining opponents, I think the edge goes to the Sounders U-23′s to finish in first, even if they drop the Kitsap match. The Pumas would have 32 points if they completed a season sweep over the Sounders, but then they would need at least a draw in their final match in Portland. Possible, but Kitsap lost big down there earlier in the year.
Meanwhile, the Sounders U-23′s host Fraser Valley and North Sound to close out, and should finish with no less than 33 points.
The Timbers U-23′s fate is intertwined with Washington Crossfire’s. A single Portland win in their final three matches gets them in to the playoffs. For Crossfire it is the same. They play each other twice. I’d say the Timbers will finish on 32. I think Crossfire are up to win one of the PDX matches and finish on 28.
That leaves the Whitecaps, who should sweep through their final three. Alas, that would put them on 27 points, just out of the playoffs.
In this overall scenario the Sounders U-23′s take the division and host Crossfire while the Pumas and Timbers tie for second. Portland gets the tiebreaker and hosts the Pumas in the playoffs.
We’ll soon see how it all plays out for real, in this unreal season.