Sounders FC

South Sound FC to open an all-derby EPLWA season

Tacoma’s South Sound Shock opens its new soccer season Sunday against the Vancouver Victory.

And you know that’s Vancouver, Washington — not British Columbia — because this is the Evergreen Premier League Washington, where every opponent is an in-state derby: Vancouver, Bellingham, Bremerton, Seattle/Kent, Wenatchee, Yakima and Spokane. Vancouver is becoming a particular rival despite its relatively distant location.

“Seems like every year the league gets stronger,” said John Crouch, Shock owner/general manager. “Of course, we’ve got our eye on Spokane because we took second to them every year. But every team is going to be tough.”

The new South Sound FC women’s team will kick off its Northwest Premier League season at 1 p.m. Sunday against the Twin City Union. The men’s match follows at 4 p.m.

The creation of the women’s team was one of two major offseason developments for South Sound FC, which formed a partnership with Washington Premier FC, connecting youth-club talent with the amateur adult Shock.

“That partnership will grow over time,” Crouch said. “Right now it’s really just the use of their facility, and we’re wearing their brand. But as we start integrating their kids and they get more bandwidth to understand what we’re doing, I think it will help us a lot with logistics stuff and getting more fans and more tickets and getting more linear opportunities for players once they are out of the youth system.”

The Shock will play most home games at Harry Lang Stadium in Lakewood, while mixing in two matches at Curtis High School in University Place.

Like the Pierce County-based Sounders U-23 PDL team, the Shock would like to play within the Tacoma city limits, but has had trouble securing an appropriate field. Crouch hopes that the new soccer facility under consideration by Metro Parks Tacoma as a home for the Sounder 2 USL team might one day serve as a venue for the Shock.

“Certainly that is the answer to our prayers,” he said.

Another EPLWA club — Seattle Stars FC — has moved to a new home for this season: French Field in Kent. Crouch said that geographical proximity hasn’t caused any player-recruitment problems and promises to enhance another rivalry.

Crouch says he believes that’s important because beyond the EPLWA mission of developing young players, its clubs aim to offer quality soccer at popular prices — in the Shock’s case, $5-$8.

“It’s a good, affordable and high-level game,” he said. “I’ve never really met anyone who came out and watched who didn’t appreciate the level.”

Couch says the Shock will remain solid on the pitch. Shock officials hope for a good start against a Vancouver team that the Shock swept over the two previous seasons (4-0). However, both 2015 matches were decided by a single goal.

“We’re just a blue-collar club,” Crouch said. “We pattern ourselves after the city we live in, which is Tacoma. We’re willing to work for it, and we’re excited for another season and hopefully bringing the trophy home.”

SOUTH SOUND SHOCK FC SCHEDULE

May 1 Vancouver Victory

May 8 at Seattle Stars (Kent)

May 14 Wenatchee

May 15 Spokane Shadow

May 22 Olympic Force*

May 28 at Vancouver

June 4 at Wenatchee

June 11 at Yakima

June 18 at Olympic Force (Bremerton)

June 19 Seattle Stars*

June 26 Yakima United

July 10 at Bellingham United

July 24 Bellingham United

July 30 at Spokane Shadow

Home matches at Harry Lang Stadium in Lakewood, except for two at Curtis High School (marked with an *).

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