By ROB SHORE
BREMERTON, Wash. — The playoff chase in the NPSL Northwest Conference Division comes squarely into view on Saturday as the Kitsap Pumas travel to face FC Mulhouse Portland in e Vancouver, Wash.
The contest, one of two back-to-back meetings between the clubs, kicks off at Kiggins Bowl at 6 p.m. The teams then have a rematch on Wednesday at Gordon Field at 7 p.m.
Kitsap (4-3-2, 14 points) is coming off a 2-0 victory at OSA FC on Wednesday night, a contest that saw goals from Ismael DeLuna and Keeton Heggerness.
Just as important, the Pumas were able to get the ball into threatening positions with a suffocating pressing defense, especially after the halftime break.
“It was a good reaction from a decent first half, but not our best,” Kitsap head coach Liviu Bird said. “We came in and talked about the things we needed to fix, and the guys obviously took that on board and they did what the game required and they closed it out.”
FC Mulhouse Portland (3-2-4, 13 points) is coming off a weekend where the club managed one points in two games in Spokane.
Mulhouse took a 1-0 victory over Kitsap in the teams’ only meeting so far this season on May 30 with Alex White’s strike in the 66th minute being the decider.
That came after a 2017 season where the Pumas were a nemesis for Mulhouse, as Kitsap swept both regular-season games and a playoff game.
But that was then, this is now.
Kitsap’s victory on Wednesday snapped a two-game losing streak, one that had seen the club fail to get on the scoresheet.
While the victory certainly offered a boost for the Pumas’ postseason ambitions, Bird dismissed the idea that finding the back of the net would have any affect on his team’s confidence.
“Confidence is not something that i think can be lost and found; it’s not like a set of car keys,” he said. “I didn’t really any different after the goal than I did before it.”