Pumas close to hiring a coach

The Kitsap Pumas have whittled their list of coaching candidates from about 20 to four.

Club executive director Ben Pecora said Wednesday the search attracted applicants “from across the globe” and is nearing its final stages. The Pumas are looking to replace John Wedge, whose contract wasn’t renewed after the club’s inaugural season.

“We are very close to being in the final interview stage,” Pecora said. “We don’t have to rush this.”

The final four candidates are former Seattle University men’s soccer coach Peter Fewing, former Grenada national team coach Tommy Taylor, 2009 Premier Development League Coach of the Year Casey Mann (Des Moines Menace) and Al Alderson, who amassed a 167-110-55 record in 17 seasons as the men’s soccer coach at Trinity Western University.

Each finalist boasts an extensive resumé.

Fewing won two national titles in nearly 20 seasons with Seattle U. Taylor, 58, is an Englishman who managed Boston United before coaching Grenada in the Gold Cup last summer. Mann recently completed a five-year stint with the Menace, going 48-19-13 and winning a PDL championship in 2005. Alderson, who will be interviewed today after emerging as a frontrunner late in the search, retired from his post at TWU last year. He was named the Canada West Coach of the Year in 2003.

“The level of interest has been astounding,” Pecora said of the search, which began in August after the Pumas were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the PDL playoffs. “We want somebody who has a proven track record at a high level.”

The Pumas want to build on the success of an inaugural season that saw them compile the third-best record in the 68-club PDL, win the Northwest Division regular-season championship, host the Portland Timbers of the United Soccer Leagues First Division in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and win a PDL playoff game.

But in addition to landing a proven winner, Pecora said the club is looking for a coach who is committed to the community and will bolster the club’s youth initiative, which included summer camps throughout the county following the 2009 season and continues to expand.

“We need a coach who is going to be involved in that,” Pecora said. “The community deserves it.”

Free kicks

Pecora said “every facet of the organization is going full bore” and the club is ready to launch its first-ever television commercial ... The Pumas exercised club options on midfielders Matt Friesen and Aziz Dieng and forward Zack Sampson ... Season tickets for the 2010 season are on sale, including a $25 kids-only (ages 4-12) package good for admission to a minimum of 11 exhibition and regular-season matches ... For additional ticket information, call club headquarters at (360) 377-6008.

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