By Rob Shore
BREMERTON, Wash. — The Kitsap Pumas will take the next first step of the 2018 season — in a series of first steps, to be sure — when the club takes to the practice pitch on Monday for its first training session of 2018.
Pumas head coach Liviu Bird said he expects to have 16-18 players for the first day of training at Gordon Field, a mixture of rostered players, trialists competing for roster spot and practice players.
Bird also noted that Kitsap will be getting after it in training rather quickly, with the first game — the first-round U.S. Open Cup match against the Portland Timbers U23 squad on May 8 — a little more than a week away. The Pumas open the defense of their National Premier Soccer League Northwest Division title in Portland, Ore., against PDX FC on May 12.
“We’re excited to get going, and we really have to make sure we hit the ground running with our first competitive match only eight days and seven sessions away,” Bird said. “We’ll get into our training expectations and methodology a bit on the first day, but from the second day onward, we’ll be working specifically off our game model and implementing what we want to see on the field on matchday.”
Bird noted the importance of this first week of training, a week devoid of any matches to look ahead toward.
“The first week will be our only real uninterrupted training cycle of the season because of how congested our schedule is,” he said. “So we plan to take full advantage of that.”
This first practice session also comes with an air of excitement for the players, the excitement of a season that is about to begin.
“It’s always exciting when practice starts and getting the first game under our belts,” returning left back Mike Scharf said. “It’s always great when you step out on the field again, get competition going, get the fun going.
“We had good group of fans last year — I’m excited to see them again and get things rolling.”