By ROB SHORE
BREMERTON, Wash. — The message all season long from Kitsap Pumas head coach Liviu Bird has been that the season is all about the process, to take each match as it comes, that none is more important than the next.
With four games left and with the Pumas two points out of the playoff places in the NPSL Northwest Conference Division, that hasn’t changed.
Having said that, Kitsap will face OSA FC tonight at Starfire Sports with its postseason future somewhat dependent on a result. Kickoff for the cross-sound rivalry will be at 7:30 p.m.
“Really, it’s just another game,” Bird said. “The only added pressure is obviously the fact that we’re in third place and we’ve only got four games left, and all that stuff now comes into play.”
Going into tonight’s clash at Starfire, the Pumas (3-3-2, 11 points) trail division frontrunners Spokane SC Shadow (4-0-4, 16 points) and FC Mulhouse Portland (3-2-4, 13 points. But the focus remains squarely on OSA, which is to say tonight’s game.
OSA (2-5-2, 8 points) currently sits in fifth place, but won their last match, a 3-2 triumph over PDX FC at Lake Oswego, Ore.
The Pumas won their last trip to Starfire, a 2-1 thriller on June 6 that saw Uriel Herrera net a match-winner in injury time. But in true Pumas form, the key factor is their own form, not the opponent.
“I think we just have to go and play our game and not worry about them,” Herrera said. “Just play our game.”
Midfielder Brian Charles said the previous result at Starfire might be a factor for their upcoming opponent.
“They’re going to be hungry because of some of the results we’ve picked up against them in the past,” he said. “But we expect that from most teams. We still have to do the things that got us where we are now.”
Kitsap needs to break a couple of trends tonight, mostly ending a two-game losing streak with road setbacks at Spokane and PDX FC. To do that, the Pumas will need to snap a 219-minute scoreless streak.
Bird didn’t think confidence in front of goal was an issue as Kitsap looks for that breakthrough.
“Whether you’ve scored or haven’t scored, confidence should be something that remains the same no matter what,” he said. “Confidence is not something that should come and go.”
Charles didn’t sound like a player worried about the drought.
“It’ll take care of itself,” he said. “We’re not overly concerned, we just have to work at it. Eventually, with the hard work, it will come into games.”