The kickoff on the rainy night at Bremerton Memorial High School was delayed by an hour after the Whitecaps were held up at the boarder and stuck in the slow-moving summer traffic jams that plague I-5 as soon as school is out for the summer. The unseasonably cold and wet weather played its part, making the pitch soggy and slippery and the ball wet. Had there been any flow to the game it surely would have been dictated by the pitch conditions. Vancouver appeared to confuse the wet turf with a swimming pool and I soon realized that a few of their players had missed out on Olympic diving qualification. They started with the ball and within their first two attacks it became obvious that they preferred to build from the back down their wings, an effective and stylish way to work the attack but what frustrated me was the clear talent that they possessed that was all wasted as they hit the deck rolling around, whining and holding a random body part. The other frustrating and unfortunate factor which totally killed the game was the referee who believed every fall and punished the home side, who were simply fighting for the ball, for fair play. Several of the beautiful plays that the Kitsap Pumas were able to create were also killed in a disappointing fashion as the Whitecaps conceded daft tactical fouls and then tried to argue the call with the referee, who lost control of the game after the first ten minutes. At least eight yellow cards should have been issued for late tackles, dissent and foul play, but in the end only a few red cards were handed out, not always to the right man, and a red card was shown to Vancouver's number 21 after he lightly pushed the ref when a call went against him.
|Man of the Match!|
On a positive note, both teams had players with clear individual skill. Although both sides seemed to have difficulty connecting and functioning as a collective unit, the Whitecap's center back number 4 was a standout defender, winning every ball that came to him in the air and tackling with impressive precision. Pumas made a substitution around the 70th minute to bring on Luis Hidalgo and his impact was immediate. Hidalgo was one of the only players to challenge the Vancouver back line the entire evening as the visitors put two men on Ben Truax after his strength and skill became apparent. The midfield for the Pumas, usually involved in the attack, were forced to defend against the strong Whitecaps midfield. Pumas player of the match was goalkeeper Zac Lubin for his dominance in the box and his quick thinking on several occasions when the Whitecaps attack was able to sneak by the Pumas back line.
A 0-0 draw is a much better result than the heavy loss for the Pumas when they played against the Whitecaps on the opening day of the league. Kitsap are still on a roll and are sitting at the top of the table, the single point from last night's match keeping them on top despite Washington Crossfire and the Sounders U23s victories in their games in the conference. The reigning USL/PDL National Champions will play the Victoria Highlanders on Sunday at 2pm, be sure to tune in!