The Kitsap Pumas are not quite ready to officially go on record that they are exploring a move from the Premier Development League (PDL) to the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), but goalWA.net has heard from credible sources that the Bremerton club will continue to do just that in the coming months.
What’s more, the Pumas may have company in a league switch. One source suggests that two other PDL Northwest Division clubs are also considering joining the Bremerton club in a league switch.
The Pumas are still stinging from a PDL ruling that changed their 2016 season. Kitsap had a win taken away and points docked that put them in too big of a hole to climb out of. After that ruling, the club issued a statement that in part said:
Despite the club’s best efforts to remain in compliance with the league’s rules in the circumstances, the league has told the club it had 10 over-age players on the master roster for the match against Victoria. Regardless, the Pumas only placed eight over-age players, who the club believed to be active and fully eligible, on the game-day roster.
The club is also dismayed that the league has decided to announce this ruling to its members on the day of another Kitsap league match. The fact that the public was made aware of it via another club’s president on social media rather than a league statement reflects poorly on the professionalism of the PDL.
The Pumas, who joined the PDL in 2009, pay their players a small wage (not a ‘living wage’) but compete in an otherwise amateur Northwest Division. For years the club has watched as the “USL” has grown into the solid nationalwide 3rd division, using MLS reserve squads to bolster its ranks. The Pumas are on the outside looking in – apparently not a club the USL covets as it grows.
More buzz is that Washington Crossfire might have played their last PDL match as a club. This talk is an annual occurence for Crossfire, which relies on outside funding and has never really been embraced by the youth juggernaut Crossfire Premier. Further, the Portland Timbers U23’s were on life support all season. Will they return?
The NPSL has hemorrhaged along for several season in the Northwest with just two clubs, Portland Spartans and OSA FC (Seattle). Should the Pumas jump over—along with a couple of other PDL clubs— then the Northwest Division of the NPSL would suddenly come to life.
Selling points for the NPSL include national competition, less league control (read interference), lower league fees, US Open Cup spots, and a working relationship with the second-division pro North American Soccer League (NASL).
It’s a touchy subject when clubs consider switching leagues. There can be lasting repercussions in just exploring the option. How would the PDL feel about clubs shopping the open market?