However, the tournament begins on lesser-known grounds and among lesser-known teams. One first-round match at 7 p.m. Wednesday be played at Mount Tahoma Stadium and pairs the Kitsap Pumas of the Premier Development League against FC Tacoma 253 of the National Premier Soccer League.
Exactly. And Tacoma’s newest soccer team believes a win Wednesday could do wonders for its profile and ambitions.
Here is our preview story, and below is more about the club and the match from 253 technical manager Filippo Milano:
On the importance of this match: It’s kind of crucial in some respects. We are a very new team if you consider that we formed the team in January, and we had to play the first qualification game in February, and now I have the chance of being in the United States Cup is being, and playing professional teams is a kind of dream, actually. This is the emotional part. It’s related to the development of our club as well. Because winning with the Pumas would put us in a great spot in Washington state. Right now Washington state is pretty much Sounders – talking about Sounders 1 and Sounders 2. Other than that there is Pumas – they are pretty well-known and they’ve done fantastic since they joined the PDL. But now for us is the chance of getting into the game with this type of teams. Of course we cannot compare ourselves to the Sounders, and will never be, honestly. It would be good for us to claim the second or third spot in Washington state. It’s not just about winning. It’s about doing well and showing everyone we are the real thing, the real deal, and we have the intention of staying in this territory for a long time and being one of the teams that people can refer to other than the Sounders. ...
Being at the United States Cup game and beating teams like the Spartans or San Diego Flash, that have many years of experience and they’ve been in the league for so many years; and especially with only local players, only amateur players is incredible in my opinion. I think it’s kind of a Cinderella story. I hope it doesn’t stop Wednesday, but we are all excited about it.
On assembling a roster in a city that already includes South Sound FC and Sounders U-23: There is a lot of dispersion in this territory. … The NPSL – the league we belong to – is a national league. The EPL, even though it’s well organized, and they have a very good team as well, it’s not national, it’s only in the state of Washington. That makes things very complicated, because there’s a lot of dispersion of players, and at the end of the day they don’t get any national exposure like they could with a team like ours or like the Pumas. That’s the difference between the Pumas and Tacoma 253 and the others: offering the chance of participating in national competition like the United States Cup and at the same time for both leagues – the PDL and the NPSL – we travel. We go to California and play with teams that are outside the state. That is very important because you can face teams that are very well organized from other states, you can see how they approach football, and they can make your team better and they can make the growth of the players much faster than the type of growth that you would receive here is Washington state playing only with the local teams. … They’re very good. I must say that. They’re very well organized. They know about football. But they’re kind of prevential.
On the team: You start the first season and you want to do very well, but there’s a lot of inexperience. And we have to face this inexperience, especially related to the fact that many of the teams we’ve played – especially in California – they have many international players. We tried to have international players, but we had to face the problem of the registration of the player and the bureaucracy between the Italian federation and the American federation – it takes a long time. So bottom line – to make the story very short – we have played every game with local players. We recruited players here to tryouts. The majority of my players are professional: I have a real estate agent, I have a manager in construction. I have multiple coaches that coach here and the youth system in Seattle. I have Ph.D: I am professor at UW of medicine. I have a huge background as a football player. … (We all) share a big passion for football with a great organization behind, which is granted by (president and CEO) Giuseppe Pezzano."
On the club's future in Tacoma: That is the main question. We are trying. We definitely need to get some support from the city of Tacoma. What is Giuseppe’s idea is really to create a club for the city of Tacoma, and to play our home game there next year. … We want to really make this team to be the Tacoma club. ... We need to do a better job of promoting. But of course it’s very difficult because here everything is about the Sounders, even in Tacoma. And I’m not saying it’s not correct. The Sounders are fantastic. You put 37,000 in the stands, you have my respect all my life. But at the same time, there are also small communities that are playing very good football, and they should be supported. If we win this game, in one week the FC Tacoma fan can come to the Starfire and see the Sounders playing against us. It’s just incredible if you look at it this way.