The Kitsap Pumas fell to the Timbers U23, 5-0 in the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in Salem, Ore.
The Pumas were dealt a serious blow in the 12th minute when centerback Kevin Francis was given a straight red card on a tackle outside of the box.
Timbers U23 midfielder Rey Ortiz would take full advantage of the free kick as he slotted it home into the bottom right corner of the goal to give the Timbers U23 an early 1-0 lead that they would not relinquish.
“It’s always tough for either side when a red card happens as it changes the game completely,” Kitsap Pumas head coach Liviu Bird said. “We could make excuses and point to it, but at the same time I don’t think there was any doubt that the Timbers played very well tonight and deserved to win, regardless of the red card.”
The red card would prove damaging to the Pumas attack, as they had to shift their tactical formation and drop a midfielder into a defensive position. The loss was felt mostly on the attack, as they were unable to generate much offense moving forward.
The Timbers U23 would grab another goal as Ortiz sent a dangerous cross into the box that careened off of Pumas defender Aria Shahmirzadi for the own goal and a 2-0 lead in the 36th minute.
“Immediately it was making sure we filled a gap at center back so we dropped one of our midfielders in and we ended up sitting a little too deep,” Bird said. “When we went down to 10 men they moved the ball well and exploited the spaces that we left behind.”
In the second half, the Pumas reconfigured their lineup yet again to try to attempt a comeback.
“We had to go for it and moved back to more of a 4-2-3,” Bird said “We had three guys up top and we wanted to pressure them and I thought in the second half we saw some good stuff defensively up the field.”
Despite a couple of chances, the move favored the Timbers U23s as they put more pressure on a shorthanded backline with several counterattacks.
The game was turned into a rout in the 50th minute when Armel-Don Tchilao sent in a cross that again bounced off of a defender and into the net for the Timbers U23 squad, giving them the 3-0 lead.
“It was a recipe for disaster for them and I think we played ok,” Timbers U23 head coach Aaron Lewis said. “In that first half we didn’t utilize that extra man as good as we could have until later. To get some confidence and start to understand and get that rhythm as a team is huge.”
Timbers U23 would add a fourth (Tchilao) and fifth (Joel Walker) goal in the 61st and 84th minutes for the 5-0 score line.
“The second half was much better than the first and we can’t fault our guys for their work rate,” Bird said. They worked for the entire 90 minutes even playing down a man. We did cause some problems for them. There are definitely some positives to pick out and I think that’s what the message has to be.”
The Pumas will begin their National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) schedule on Saturday as they travel to take on PDX FC at Hilken Community Stadium in Concordia University in Portland.
“This is our first competitive match together and we’re still waiting for a lot of our guys to still get here, Bird said. “The Open Cup is a good bonus for us and it’s nice to make it. Obviously we’ll be trying to make it here again, but at the same time the league season is our focus. We’ll regroup quickly and go again on Saturday.”
Contributors: Luis Ramirez/NPSL.com
Photo Credit: Luis Ramirez/NPSL.com