The Spokane Shadow, chomping at the bit after a long layoff, hope to chow down on Yakima tonight when they make their official home debut.
The fledgling amateur team in the professional United Systems of Independent Soccer League plays the Yakima Red at 7 at Spokane Falls Community College.
The Shadow, with a 1-3 record, haven’t played in three weeks.
“We’re starting new since we haven’t played,” coach Einar Thorarinsson said. “That will be one of our challenges, just to get back into game form. We played scrimmages but it’s not the same.”
There have been no changes in personnel during the layoff but Thorarinsson has altered the team’s attack.
“We’re quick and we’re hungry,” he said. “We’re willing to work hard. That would be our strength at the moment. We adapt quite easily to different situations.”
Jim Martenson leads the Shadow with two goals plus a game-winner in a shootout. Dave Berto has also scored twice.
After losing their first game in Seattle 3-0, the Shadow have been close in the others. The win was a 1-0 shootout in Portland with John Nagel making a key save to set up Martenson’s game-winner. The game was scoreless during regulation.
“We’ve been competitive with all the teams in the league so far with the exception of the first one,” Thorarinsson said. “Two we lost in last five minutes of the game. The very first game we had to adjust so much we just never got going. Our weakness is still game experience at that level.”
Yakima, a full member of the league with professional players, is in a similar situation.
“They’re lacking players that played at this level, they’re going through the same growing pains as we are,” Thorarinsson said.
Full league members play 20 games while Spokane plays 12 exhibitions. Spokane, which plays in the Northwest Division, plans to be a full member next year, although the players will probably remain amateurs.
“The response from the players has been extremely good,” Thorarinsson said. “All are full-time students or professional people. They’ve had to make sacrifices to do this. I’m extremely happy. Good players just want to play. Somebody maybe they’ll be able to get compensated.”
Although the Shadow drew more than 3,000 for an exhibition with the Seattle Sounders, a major professional team, Thorarinsson’s hope for league games are more modest.
“We’d like to see as many as possible, 500 would be nice. Any more than that would be a bonus,” he said. “We realize we have to start small and work on growing. We’re committed to another year, we won’t fold our tent.”
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.