NPSL Weekly: West Teams Push Forward

FC Hasental remains at the top after 13-0 win over Las Vegas
by Daniel Casey   |   Friday, April 26, 2013

NPSL Weekly – column on the NPSL and the league's clubs, players and owners

It’s early in the West Conference season, but it appears that there are a few narratives emerging.

One is the defensive stinginess of Orange County Pateadores, including last week’s National Player of the Week, goalkeeper Jose Miranda, who has already managed 2 cleansheets.

This past weekend, he saw his shutout streak nipped by the league’s top offense FC Hasental, but even then it was only 2 goals (one of which a penalty kick).

The former Cuban National Team goalkeeper has carved a niche for himself with Orange County, which is 1 of 3 still unbeaten teams in NPSL play.

Shutouts are always impressive, but the San Diego Flash and FC Santa Clarita are not offensively threatening teams (yet). In fact, it could be argued that they are still looking to gel, and that their losses to Orange County are merely early season bumps in the road. The Southern Flight of the West Conference is still in its early stages so it would be premature to declare any team out of the mix.

The major reason FC Hasental is atop the standings is due to its 13-0 thrashing of newcomers Las Vegas Stallions in the first week of April. That match wasn’t just an inauspicious start for Las Vegas, but it created quite a mountain for the Sin City team to climb in the table and mentally.

Fortunately it seems as though Las Vegas has righted the ship a bit. This last weekend’s match against San Diego Boca was a well-won 0-0 draw, a result that will hopefully begin the salvaging of the team’s goal differential that currently stands at -14.

Yet Las Vegas isn’t the team in the worst position. The San Francisco Stompers are winless, tallying 3-straight opening season losses. Against Sonoma County on Saturday, it looked as though San Francisco might draw but it wasn’t to be. Still, the team appeared stronger so the first point(s) of the 2013 season may come for them soon.

For the upcoming weekend

This coming weekend the matches to watch will involve the table’s basement dwellers. Las Vegas will square off against the San Diego Flash and have home field advantage. It may not seem like it, but there might be momentum from their scoreless draw. The Flash has had a rough time of it so far and won’t want to extend their losing streak to 3 games.

San Francisco will finally have its home opener and will be looking to snag its first points of the season against the Sacramento Gold, who have won their last 2 matches.

Look for CD Aguiluchos to try to find some stability against Sonoma County. Whether that stability is in losing or winning, no one knows. The team has been swinging to extremes, winning 4-0 a week after losing 3-0 and before that 2-0.

It seems CD Aguiluchos is an all or nothing side, which will probably result in another Sonoma County Sol victory. The Sol has had some quality production out of Chris Daly and Ross Middlemiss, each with 2 goals apiece so far.

While Sonoma County hasn’t kept a cleansheet, it has managed to handle its opposition quite well. And so might FC Hasental, as it goes up against FC Santa Clarita. Hasental already has 7 players with 2 or more goals to their credit. One of them is defender Lucian Lue, who leads the conference with 4 goals. One hopes that Santa Clarita has practiced defending set pieces and has a plan to handle Hasental’s flanks.

San Diego Boca, Real San Jose and Orange County will have a bye this weekend in league play. 

Meanwhile the rest of the country is finalizing schedules and rosters ahead of their season getting underway. The last of the friendlies are being played and the supporter groups are getting restless.

When the South Conference opens the 2013 season on May 4, 3 expansion teams will take the field. Debuts will come from the Cape Coral Hurricanes as they take on Miami United SC and from Tampa Marauders FC as they face NPSL stalwarts Jacksonville United FC. There will certainly be a lot of art deco coloration in the stands and on the pitch.

Daniel CASEY

Nationality:
USA
College:
Carthage College Univ. of Notre Dame
Club Domestic:
Chicago Fire & Minnesota Stars
Club Foreign:
Manchester United
Founder/editor of the literary magazine Gently Read Literature, active but barely read poet and literary critic, and an occasional English professor. Never got to play soccer until his mid-30s, so he is routinely schooled by U10 crowd at pick-up games.
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