By Rob Shore
BREMERTON, Wash. — The Kitsap Pumas make their Gordon Field debut on Jan. 27 as the NPSL team hosts its open tryout for the 2018 season.
New coach Liviu Bird will be keeping watch over those attending, looking to identify a potential diamond in the rough to add to the new season’s squad.
“There’s always a possibility, that’s the reason we still do tryouts even though it’s easy to recruit players through videos and word of mouth,” Bird said. “It seems like every year, we find a player who makes the roster from the open tryout. It gives us a chance to find a player we missed.”
The tryouts will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Gordon Field at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds, and there is a $50 fee to register. Trialists must be 16 or older.
It’s the only chance for members of the public to audition for a spot on the Pumas. All other tryouts — such as invitational tryouts in February and March — are by invitation from the Pumas coaching staff.
The Pumas have had success finding players in their open tryout in recent years. In 2017, Kitsap signed defender Johnny Gibula and wing Nana Boakye after first catching the coachs’ eyes at the trial session. The Pumas similarly signed Joel Waterman and Daniel Davidson in 2016.
“Every player is different,” Bird said. “What everybody brings to the table is different than the next guy. Johnny was a young guy we thought we could elevate. Nana had the quality as far as being on the ball and had clearly played before at a decent level.”
Trialists who shine could be invited back for an invitational tryout later this season, so the coaches can get a better look.
The event tends to bring all kinds to the Pumas’ pitch: Youth players who want to test themselves, community college players, even players looking for one last chance.
Similarly, there isn’t any one thing that Bird and the rest of the Pumas staff will be watching for. They’ll just know it when they see it.
“Really, the open tryout is for the players to do whatever they do best,” Bird said. “If they’re a good dribbler, good passer, good goalscorer, that’s what’s going to catch my eye. Not anything specific, just see what the players bring and would offer the team if they were to be selected.”
Bird noted that the tryout also represents the start of the new National Premier Soccer League season, though training and matches won’t begin for the new campaign until May. It’s still an important beginning.
“There’s always excitement for the first time you step on the field in a season, and that’s what the open tryout is,” Bird said. “It’s a chance for players who want to play for us and drive down here. It’s a big deal and not to be taken lightly.”
For additional information and to register for the tryout, click here.