Sports

Kitsap Pumas slide out of U.S. Open Cup

Kitsap Pumas forward Stephen Phillips races past a Portland defender during the Pumas
Kitsap Pumas forward Stephen Phillips races past a Portland defender during the Pumas' 3-0 loss in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup Tuesday night at Memorial Stadium.
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/staff photo

BREMERTON — For those who questioned whether the Kitsap Pumas could compete against a top-tier professional soccer club, here is a simple answer: yes.

The United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League (USL PDL) Pumas, hosting the Portland Timbers of USL Division I in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup Tuesday night at Bremerton Memorial Stadium in front of an announced crowd of 2,128, lost for the first time in their young history, 3-0.

But for the better part of 88 minutes, the PDL Pumas looked every part of their D-I opponent.

After a scoreless, physical first half in which neither team scored, Brian Farber put the Timbers ahead 1-0 in the 46th minute, just 25 seconds into the second half. Farber, who missed a scoring chance less than 30 seconds into the game on a breakaway, took a pass from Keith Savage on the right side of the box and snuck a low shot inside the left post past Pumas goalkeeper Dustyn Brim, who had shaded to the right after a Pumas defender slipped, giving Farber space.

"It was there for the taking and I just put in on the ground," Farber said. "Had I missed that one, I would have felt pretty bad after what I did in the first half."

The score was both sudden and surprising — many fans were still piling back into their seats — and it was exactly the scenario Pumas coach John Wedge dreaded.

"It's just so unfortunate," Wedge said. "We talk about it all the time, about having a dip after halftime. Everybody was really focused on not having a dip and yet we had a lapse in concentration. And that's what cost us."

It appeared as though the Pumas had the equalizer in the 57th minute, with midfielder Tony Kerr bouncing a shot into the net off the hands of Portland keeper Steve Cronin, who faced eight shots on goal from the Pumas. The crowd exploded, but the goal was nullified with an offsides call.

"That's what they said, but to me it didn't look offside at all," Wedge said. "It would be good to see on the replay."

Yet the Pumas continued to apply pressure on Portland's defense, nearly tying it again in the 59th minute. This time, forward Spencer Schomaker took a Kerr pass and pushed a shot just wide right from about 20 yards out.

As the game forged on, the Pumas brought their defense forward in hopes of springing a score, but Portland never let up.

The Timbers made it 2-0 on a Jason McLaughlin strike in the 90th minute and 3-0 on a David Hayes penalty kick less than two minutes later in stoppage time. Players from both Portland and Kitsap said the score — and the two late goals — wasn't indicative of how competitive the game was.

"I said it before the game, I think we can play with just about anybody out there. For 88 minutes of that game, we were in there neck and neck with them," Brim said. "I think we were a bit more than they were expecting to come across ... Hopefully it leaves a little bit of an impression with them."

"I think we played pretty poorly, but at the same time these guys really brought it. They wanted to beat us," Farber added. "There's a lot of good players on (Kitsap); they're hard-working, athletic and they're not bad on the ball."

With the loss, the Pumas were eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup. Meanwhile, Portland, who is set to join Sounders FC in Major League Soccer in 2011, will face the Sonoma County Sol in the second round June 16 in Irvine, Calif.

"They were a good bunch of guys and obviously a high-caliber team," Brim said of playing a USL Division I club. "It's always good to play those teams and hopefully we can do it some more."

The loss doesn't hurt the Pumas in the USL PDL Northwest Division standings — they remain in first place with 17 points, ahead of Portland Timbers U23 (16 points). The club visits the Abbotsford Mariners (2-2-1) at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow.

"I really felt that we had an equal game with them," Wedge said. "I thought we came back strongly after that (first goal). The score is not a true indication of the game."

Stoppage time

The announced attendance of 2,000-plus far exceeded the announced crowd of 1,572 at the home-opener May 15 ... Portland brought a vocal following of about 100 fans, known as the Timber Army, who exchanged chants with Kitsap's 'Ultras' ... Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmidt attended the game, perhaps scouting the Timbers, who the Sounders would face in the third round of the Cup if Portland wins its second-round match ... The South Kitsap High School boys soccer team, which won the Class 4A state championship, marched onto the field before the game to a brief introduction.

Portland 3, Kitsap 0

Second half—1, Por, Brian Farber (Keith Savage), 46th. 2, Por, Jason McLaughlin, 90th. 3, Por, David Hayes (penalty kick), 90th.

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