By Rob Shore
The Kitsap Pumas will open the 2018 U.S. Open Cup with an away match against Portland Timbers U23, US Soccer announced on Wednesday.
The first-round U.S. Open Cup game is scheduled for May 8 at McCulloch Stadium in Salem, Ore. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The matchup against the Premier Development League side is something of a throwback. The Timbers U23s joined the PDL with the Pumas in 2009; when the Timbers won the PDL title in 2010, the Pumas followed up to win the league the following year.
“Our club has fond memories of playing against the Timbers U23s when we both were in the same league,” Pumas head coach Liviu Bird said. “It’s always challenging when you come up against a team that has the backing of one of the country’s best professional clubs.”
The two clubs’ origins ties neatly around the U.S. Open Cup as well. In 2009, the Pumas beat out the Timbers U23s for a U.S. Open Cup spot by defeating the Cascade Surge 3-0 on the final day of qualifying.
When the two clubs were deadlocked for a Cup berth in 2011, the teams opted to determine the matter in a regular-season match, rather than a coin flip. The Pumas defeated the Timbers U23s 3-2 behind two goals from Robby Christner to earn their third consecutive U.S. Open Cup berth.
The contest will be the regular-season opener for Kitsap at a time when the team won’t have a full roster, before the start of the National Premier Soccer League campaign. Similarly, it will come nearly two weeks before the Timbers U23 PDL season opener on May 18.
“We have a lot of players who won’t be released from school in time for that game, but they’ll be in a similar situation,” Bird said. “More than anything, we’re looking forward to being back in the Open Cup and playing in a competitive match for the first time since last July.”
The Pumas did not compete in the U.S. Open Cup in 2017, having just moved to the NPSL, playing as Kitsap Soccer Club for that season.