Sounders U-23 supporters (photo by Chris Coulter, SoundersPhotos.com)
Tacoma, WA – With three matches left in the PDL regular season, the Sounders U-23 have wrapped up a playoff berth. Now, the Sounders and three other teams in the Northwest Division turn their sights toward the regular season NW Division title and playoff seeding.
The top four teams from the Northwest Division will qualify for post season soccer. After the regular season has finished, the 1st place team in the division will play against the 4th placed team. The 2nd and 3rd place squads will also compete. These two matches will determine who represents the NW Division in the Western Conference Final Four.
Currently, the Kitsap Pumas lead the NW Division with 29 points. The Sounders U-23 and Timbers U-23 are in 2nd and 3rd place with 27 and 26 points respectively. Trailing the Timbers by one point is the WA Crossfire. Each of these teams could swap positions in the final week of the season.
The Sounders U-23 and Timbers U-23 have one advantage over their top-four opponents. While Kitsap and Crossfire have played 14 matches, the Sounders and Timbers have only played 13. The Sounders have lost both of their matches this season against the Pumas this season, but are 2-0 against Portland, and 2-0 against Crossfire.
With such a tight race towards the playoff seeding, head to head match importance grows immensely. The Sounders U-23 will travel across the Narrows Bridge for a showdown on Friday night with the Pumas for their third meeting of the year. Following that match, the Sounders play the bottom two teams in the division to finish up the PDL schedule. For Kitsap, the magnitude of Friday’s match will be duplicated two days later when they travel to Oregon to play the Timbers U-23.
For WA Crossfire, the season culminates with two games against the Portland Timbers U-23. The Timbers host Crossfire on July 6, and then sandwich a home game vs. the Kitsap Pumas between another Crossfire matchup in Redmond, WA on July 11.
The 1 vs. 4 and 2 vs. 3 matches will be hosted by the higher seed on July 14th or 15th. The winners will compete against the top two teams from the Southwest Division, which is currently led by the Ventura County Fusion, with a 10-1-2 record. Dates and locations are still to be determined.