By Rob Shore
The journey of a thousand miles, so says an ancient Chinese philosopher, begins with a single step. But for the players of Kitsap Soccer Club, the journey that will be the 2017 National Premier Soccer League Season began with a lap.
One lap around the tree-lined pitch at Gordon Field. Partly to get their heartrate up before their first training session, but partly to introduce themselves to their new teammates as they jogged.
“Get to know each other,” Kitsap SC strength coach Matt Eronemo urged the players. “Compliment each other on your boots.”
With Kitsap SC’s league debut coming up on Saturday, the boot-complimenting time may be at an end. Kitsap SC hosts Spokane Shadow at Gordon Field in the club’s inaugural match in the NPSL, and with only 10-game season before them, it will be important to hit the ground – well, running.
“I think we are (ready),” said Hamidou Kante, one of the team’s newest additions. “We’ve still got a little misunderstanding in communication. But I think we’re ready for the season.”
That would be natural for a team with only three weeks worth of training under their belts. But it’s not quite that simple. Only seven first-team regulars were present for that jog around the pitch. The rest reported as their schedules allowed, and they would have to play catch-up.
But with the first game upon them, the preseason has gone well, and Kitsap recorded a pair of wins against Harbor SC and South Sound FC.
“We’re still working on our preseason,” Kitsap head coach Roy Lassiter said after the 3-2 victory over South Sound on Wednesday night. “Guys are coming in and out. We’re going to be ready for Saturday once these boys get rested up.”
The squad so far has featured veteran Jesus “Chuy” Sanchez, along with host of new faces: forwards Brian Charles, Kazushiro Hamaguchi and Kante; midfielders Romario Lomeli, Javo Reyes, Alvaro Macias and Jack Philp (who was thrust into the starting lineup Saturday shortly after arriving); and defenders Joe Harris, Mike Scharf, Tony Mota and Nana Boakye. More will still be added in the coming days.
The league itself will be different. The NPSL Northwest Division has two teams in 2016; Portland Spartans FC (now FCM Portland) and Kent’s OSA FC. This season, the 2017 has been fleshed out a bit – besides Kitsap coming over from the PDL, the division features PDX Portland, Spokane Shadow and Pierce County FC.
“We’re looking really clean in training,” goalkeeper Joe Wheelwright said. “It’s difficult because there are players still coming in – Jack (Philp) stepped in for his first game. But the team’s looking really good, and as the players come, we’ll mesh.”
The next step is the opener against Spokane Shadow on Saturday at Gordon Field. At that point, the quality of a player’s boots is a distant second to getting three points.