David Falk has followed soccer in the Puget Sound region since 1974. This blog covers Sounders FC, local college soccer, Seattle Wolves FC, Tacoma Tide FC and Kitsap Pumas. Send tips or comments to: email@example.com
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Seattle Soccer Examiner
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Five clubs, five questions for 2009: Tacoma Tide FC
In the second installment of my "Five Questions" series I turn my attention to South Sound and the longest-operating same league high-level club in our region, Tacoma Tide FC. The Tide will be playing their fourth season in the PDL in 2009 with hopes of continuing their on-pitch rise while at the same time getting larger crowds.
No local club played more entertaining or winning soccer than Tacoma Tide FC did in 2008. The Tide won their first division trophy and also earned their first playoff win before falling to Vancouver in the regional final. Along the way TFC set records for goals and wins at home.
Five questions for Tacoma Tide FC
1. Can the Tide compete for the best local college players?
In 2006 when TFC was hastily born, after the demise of the Spokane Shadow, they struggled to get a squad together out of local elite college players. Since then the Tide have pretty much had the summers to themselves. They've seen star players from Washington (Raphael Cox, Steve Mohn, Beau Macaluso), Seattle University (Jordan Jennings, John Fishbaugher) and locals from out of state schools (Spencer Schomaker, Syracuse, Ciaran O'Brien, Santa Clara). Some very gifted players have worn the yellow over the years. In 2009 the Tide will see extreme competition for recruiting players as Seattle, Portland and Victoria join them in the PDL. Kitsap Pumas are also in, but have pledged to sign 'pro' players who have surrendered their NCAA eligibility.
Already one University of Washington star has committed to playing for Portland's U-23's. Freshman star forward Brent Richards will go south this summer. Brent lives in Camas, WA, which likely helped in his decision.
2. Can the Tide remain undefeated at home again?
The streak has to end eventually, but right now the Tide have not lost at home since July 14 of 2006. It is an impressive string that is up to 18 matches and includes a 2-2 draw with the USL Sounders in 2007. Tacoma didn't just win at home, they dominated in 2008 by outscoring opponents 36-5.
3. Where will 'home' be?
The Tide have played their first three seasons at Viking Field at Curtis High School in University Place, Tacoma. It's been a good venue for them, a small stadium with a no-hassle lease from a small school district. There is currently construction of a new Junior High next to the stadium, and it is unclear if that will affect usage of the stadium this summer.
4. Can they get a witness?
Tacoma Tide have played very exciting soccer with talented local stars, but have yet to capture much interest in South Sound. The fans have gotten increasingly noisy and supportive, but the numbers still remain at around 200+ average per match. I'm not sure if it is possible for a PDL squad to remain amateur and keep expenses down while at the same time drawing bigger crowds in Tacoma. The Tide have a nice business network through MVP Physical Therapy, and did a lot of work last year to increase awareness. Will it payoff in 2009?
5. Who will become Tacoma's biggest local rival?
The Tide's biggest rival right now is the Yakima Reds. This is likely to continue on into 2009 as Yakima made a miraculous 'back from the dead' recovery in late 2008 to find ownership to play again in 2009.
Now Tacoma have much more local flavor on the menu. Kitsap Pumas are just more than half an hour away over the Narrows Bridge in Bremerton. The mysterious yet-to-be-announced Seattle PDL club is a new I-5 rival. Victoria BC and Portland will also be on the schedule. So which one of these new clubs will develop into the fiercest rival for TFC? We've been starting a rivalry cup idea between the Tide and Kitsap, but that was before the sudden arrival of a Seattle club. Now it seems like any local PDL derby cup should include all three sides.
Next: Seattle Wolves FC
Five clubs, five questions