The PDL’s Northwest Division includes seven teams, including expansion Calgary Foothills FC and six returning clubs from a year ago. The Kitsap Pumas are the defending division winner after boasting a 9-1-4 record in the regular season and then advancing to the PDL Championship in 2014.
Calgary Foothills FC: Foothills looks forward to its first PDL season, and the squad is headed by Tommy Wheeldon Jr., who is also an assistant coach with Canada’s U-17 national team. Calgary opens the campaign at home against Puget Sound Gunners FC on Sunday, May 17, at Hellard Field.
Kitsap Pumas: The 2014 PDL runner-up Kitsap enters a new season with plenty of familiar faces as the Pumas hope to make another run to the title game. Starting on the defensive side, center back and team captain Cory Keitz will head this club after earning 2014 PDL All-League accolades. Goalkeeper Matt Grosey also is back after starting in 16 games last season, and other key returnees include target forward Michael Chamberlain and midfielder Justin Ortinau. Since Kitsap joined the PDL in 2009, the club took first in the Northwest Division three times, including last year, and has advanced to the postseason in five of six seasons. The Pumas won the PDL crown in 2011. The 2015 season opens at Lane United FC on Saturday, May 16, and Kitsap’s home opener is against PDL newcomer Calgary Foothills FC on Friday, May 22, at Gordon Field.
Lane United FC: Lane United enters its second season with plenty of room to grow. Though United had some offensive shortcomings and finished last in the division in 2014, the squad is hoping to take advantage of a set of tryouts held in Valencia, Spain, in March. Head coach John Galas’ Spanish-heavy talent from this tryout includes defenders Cristian Couto and Cristian de Luis, and a bevy of midfielders in Cristian Cataluña, Richy Hurtado, Isma Fernandez and Alex Pantoja. Four of United’s first five games are on the road. It travels to face the Portland Timbers U-23s on May 14, then returns home to take on the Kitsap Pumas on May 16 before going on the road again for the remainder of the month.
Portland Timbers U-23s: The Timbers U-23s have had a strong run of producing familiar names in the professional realm, from current Timbers 2 forward Kharlton Belmar in the USL to San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Fatai Alashe, who scored the first MLS goal in the newly built Avaya Stadium. The next wave of talent takes to the field in 2015. Defender Dennis Castillo will be returning from the side that went 5-4-5 last season, but the majority of the group should be new to the fold, with Virginia standout Todd Wharton, who helped the Cavaliers claim the 2014 College Cup, set to be among them. The Timbers U-23s host Lane United on Thursday, May 14, at Providence Park to open the new season.
Puget Sound Gunners FC: Puget Sound looks to make a climb from last season after posting a 3-9-2 record in the division in 2014. The Gunners, who joined the PDL in 2011 and are still on the lookout for their first postseason, kick off their new campaign on Sunday, May 17, at Calgary, followed by a home match against Lane United on Saturday, May 23.
Sounders FC U-23: The Sounders U-23s will have a max of familiarity and new youth to try and get back into the postseason picture after falling short the past two years. Most eyes will be on the return of Luis Esteves. This will mark his fourth and final season with the Sounders U-23s, and he was a member of the 2012 squad that won the Northwest Division title and advanced to the national semifinals. Another familiar name in the Sounders pipeline is newcomer Isidro Prado-Huerta, who played for their U.S. Soccer Development Academy team. Sounders U-23 assistant coach Jason Prenovost formerly coached Prado-Huerta at Highline Community College. The Sounders U-23s begin the 2015 PDL season with four consecutive home games, starting Sunday, May 24, against Calgary.
Washington Crossfire: The Washington Crossfire finished sixth in 2014 with a 3-6-5 record. Some players from Crossfire’s Development Academy system are making the step up with the PDL this season such as goalkeeper Bryce Logan and forward Simon Lekressner. An interesting athlete on the squad is midfielder Matt Poplawski, as he juggles two sports at Penn – soccer and basketball. Washington begins the 2015 PDL season at home against the Portland Timbers U-23s on Tuesday, May 19.