The Tacoma Tide will take to the field Saturday night in their home stadium (Curtis H.S.) with a far different opponent than their regular season foes. On the line: Bragging rights, fan support, and a chance to exhibit their skill to a higher tier of the soccer ladder. There is even a family rivalry woven into this match up.
With the Sounders and the Tide so close in location, the rivalry is almost more of a partnership. In fact, when the Tacoma Tide’s league rights were acquired in 2006, the Sounders actually had to sign an allowance for another team inside their franchise boundaries. They were happy to do so.
“From the beginning, the Sounders organization has been supportive of our team and in getting this game off the ground. It is always a treat for our boys to test themselves against a quality side such as the Sounders.” Says Tide’s General Manager, Mike Jennings.
“We’ve enjoyed getting to know Mike Jennings (Tide’s GM) and the Tacoma Tide organization and look forward to our exhibition game on July 7,” said Bart Wiley, general manager of the Seattle Sounders
Keith Larson, an assistant coach for the Tide agrees that this game and these two teams are positive for the Puget Sound soccer community, “It’s really for the fans first, and to pull these two teams together.” Larson also added, “As far as the team, honestly, we want to win.”
One young Tide player on the verge of making a jump to the professional level is Ciaran O’Brien. He is considered the highest touted transfer in collegiate soccer, making a move from San Diego to National Title holders U.C. Santa Barbara next year.
While most brothers beat up on each other in the backyard, Ciaran and his older brother Leighton will have a chance to go toe-to-toe on the soccer field Saturday as Leighton is a mainstay in the Sounders midfield. Ciaran plays a similar midfield role for the Tacoma Tide, who, like a little brother, will be out to prove themselves.
The family ties don’t stop there. Head coach of the Tacoma Tide is Fran O’Brien, father to Ciaran and Leighton.
“As a dad it’ll be unusual. It’ll be good to see them challenge each of them and we’ll see how it goes.” Fran said when asked to describe his son’s clash.
The Sounders are certainly no loser in the scheduling of this event. Remember, it is they who get first looks at these talented young players. Also, Seattle is aware of bragging right implications.
“The game gives us a chance to prepare for our busy regular season July schedule and will certainly provide bragging rights for one team in Puget Sound area-we want that team to be the Sounders!” said the Sounders GM.
The Seattle Sounders play under the same soccer governing body as the Tide: the United Soccer Leagues. The Sounders, however, play in the top professional tier of that association, the USL-1 League. The Tacoma Tide play in the only amateur league of the USL, called the Premier Development League. It is just that, a league for the development of young (mostly college-age) talent in the United States. Both the USL-1 and the PDL host teams from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and everywhere in between. A good performance in this game could land a young player their first professional contract.
A day for Puget Sound Soccer: Tide vs. Sounders on Saturday, July 7th @ 7:00pm & Curtis High School Stadium (8425 40th St. W, University Place WA 98466). For more information, visit www.TacomaFC.com.