PDL Season Preview: Northwest Division

A look at the opponents for Whitecaps FC U-23 this season

Hundal vs. UVic

Photo Credit: 
USLsoccer.com

The Northwest Division has been one of the most competitive in the PDL’s recent history, with two of the last three champions hailing from its ranks, and Sounders FC U-23 winning the Western Conference a year ago. With three MLS-affiliated squads, and other teams that have grabbed strong talent from colleges in the Pacific Northwest, little is likely to change in terms of competition, and the high level of play on offer.

 
Kitsap Pumas – The Pumas finished third in the division a season ago, being edged out of a place in the U.S. Open Cup by the Portland Timbers U-23s on goal difference in the regular season before falling in the division semifinals to the same team. This year’s squad sees some familiar faces returning, with Zach Sampson back in defense after making 14 appearances a season ago. Kennedy Chongo also arrives after having played for the Ventura County Fusion a season ago.
 
North Sound SeaWolves – The SeaWolves return some talented players, including Brady Ballew, who had three goals and four assists a season ago, but the club’s focus has been on bringing in new talent for the new season. To that end, former Portland Timbers U-23s midfielder Nick Hamer arrives after earning All-West Coast Conference First Team honors with Gonzaga last fall, while 6-foot-7 goalkeeper Ryan Herman is a former U.S. U18 international who spent last summer with the Sounders FC U-23.
 
Portland Timbers U-23s – After finishing as runner-up in the division a season ago, and earning a second consecutive berth in the U.S. Open Cup as a result, the Timbers U-23s have reloaded on talent for the new season. Back with the side is U.S. U20 international Eric Miller of Creighton, and 2012 All-League selection Mark Sherrod of Memphis. Sherrod had 10 goals and three assists last summer, and will be hoping to replicate that accomplishment again.
 
Sounders FC U-23 – After rebranding from the Tacoma Tide, the Sounders U-23 put together a remarkable run to not only the top of the division but also to the national semifinals of the playoffs. While they will be without standout defender DeAndre Yedlin, now starring for the Sounders in MLS, there is plenty of talent returning, including Aodhan Quinn (six goals, three assists) and Darwin Jones (four goals, two assists). Also joining the squad is Abduwali Aman, formerly of North Sound, after he recorded five goals last season.
 
Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 – The 'Caps just missed out on the playoffs a year ago, but continue to use their strong academy system to provide talent for the club’s U-23 side. Among those returning this season are defender James Farenhorst, who had three goals and an assist in 16 games last season, while Gangandeep Dohsanjh is also back after making 15 appearances a year ago.
 
Victoria Highlanders FC – The Highlanders will be looking to make a return to the playoffs this season, and have returned a number of players to that end. Leading scorer Craig Gorman, who had five goals and three assists in 15 games, leads the way, with backing from goalkeeper Elliot Mitrou, who had six shutouts and a 1.125 goals against average while playing every minute of the season. Joining the squad this season is veteran attacking midfielder Riley O’Neill, who returns to his native British Columbia after playing overseas.
 
Washington Crossfire – The Crossfire made a notable coaching change for the new season, with Nik Besagno taking the reins as player/coach. After playing 12 games last season for the Crossfire after coming over from Kitsap, Besagno will have some good talent to work with as he tries to lead the side back to the playoffs. University of Washington goalkeeper Spencer Richey was a standout for Timbers U-23s a season ago, recording a 0.970 goals against-average in 14 games, while Nick James returns to lead the club’s back four.