The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
TACOMA, Washington—goalWA.net has followed with interest as South Sound Football Club formed, picked a crest and began play in the Premier Arena Soccer League last year. The club is more than just an indoor side, and has already had an eventful first year, so we caught up with founder John Crouch to get a progress report as the Shock get ready for their second indoor tryouts and season.
“A year ago we were just starting our indoor side for the PASL,” remembers Crouch. “We built a team that looked horrible from the start of the season, getting beat as bad as 11-3 in Bellingham, to turning things around over the break and making the playoffs. We played Kitsap Pumas in the first round and arguably should have won the game against them but allowed a tie with a bad call and a lapse in player focus and we lost in PKs. We continued our play on the outdoor pitch at Starfire in their SPSL league and we also built a U-20 team that went to play in the USASA National Cup in Chicago for U-23′s. Our team lost in the first round but made quite the impression on the other coaches. The team we lost to went on to be national champs. Our U-20′s team was made up mostly of 19-20 year old college players hailing from 4-year schools. We also took second place with Team USA in the All Nations Cup. We also helped make a commercial for the WSSA that can be viewed before every Sounders game, with our logo all over it!”
South Sound is a pure grass roots club that must rely on playing to gain attention and word-of-mouth and social media to release news. “We are getting our word out everywhere we play,” Crouch says of exposure for the club. He knows that good players won’t come if they don’t know you exist. “We are also trying to recruit young players from local colleges and really we’d like to get a look at any player that thinks he may be able to help us. We have a website, www.SouthSoundFC.com, and we also are very active on our Facebook page. We also made strong connections to the Sounders U23 and Academies through Coach Darren Sawatsky this year by playing friendlies and networking our program to him. He has been sending us players as well.”
The focus for South Sound is now the upcoming Premier Arena Soccer League season. The club calls its indoor side the “Shock,” and will be holding open tryouts October 20th and 21st.
“This year we will be playing our home games in Tacoma at the Pacific Sports Center, so we believe this will provide better opportunities for us to network sponsorship types of partnerships,” Crouch says optimistically. “We will be training at both the Tacoma Soccer Center (on their brand new field) and at Pacific Sports Center, so we believe this will give us a deeper fan support through more touchpoints in the community. We are working to develop some outreach programs at the moment that we hope to fund this year through our PASL Premier bid. We will be focusing strongly on fundamentals this year, making sure all of our players have the best touch of their lives, are the best shooters and that they understand our game plan to the fullest. Indoor is a game of many opportunities and we want to capitalize on all of them and we intend to accomplish this with our structured training regimens.”
So what will the Shock look for in the tryouts? “We most importantly want players that are hungry for the game, that don’t want to be individuals but want to contribute to a greater cause as a team. We constantly preach battling for each other and always supporting each other, so we will be looking at the mentality of the players and how they handle adversity and a high level competition. Of course, we are looking for skilled players with speed. We will teach the inexperienced indoor players the game, so in our trials we will be looking more at how well the player picks up on what we are asking of them and how well they take it to the field. We want high soccer IQs, strong-willed players that want to battle in the name of SSFC and that want to build the team up.”
I asked Crouch to think ahead to next spring and summer, when players go outside and local leagues ho longer have roofs over their heads. What’s next for South Sound in this area?
“Next year will be interesting for our adult outdoor program,” Crouch suggests. “Much of the potential of this club at this point lies in the partnerships we can develop and how we can build commitment both through players and coaches. We have an exciting partnership that I am not quite ready to name yet, as it is still materializing, but this one could support our group to make giant steps for our club. We will continue to play year-round indoor and outdoor soccer at the highest level we can find.
Could South Sound join Bellingham United in the Pacific Coast Soccer League? “The one problem we would have with the PCSL is that most of the teams are in Canada,” says Crouch. “We need more down here! We attempted to play US Adult Club this last year but were left somewhat high and dry by the league after they told us there would be a league and then backed out super late in the game. So as you can see there aren’t many answers to this question as of now. We are focusing on the PASL at this point and are entertaining any and all ideas. We also are always looking for partnerships in the form of sponsorships, ownership opportunities or any types of folks that would like to get involved and help us build. As of right now, most of this club’s movement and building has happened out of my own time and a lot from my own wallet. That has to change for us to keep growing.”