NPSL Weekly: Midwest, Northeast Begin Play

Midwest Conference and Northeast Conference get underway in earnest
by Daniel Casey   |   Wednesday, May 15, 2013

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

The NPSL keeps rolling along as more teams open their seasons this week. Most teams will play a 2-month season with 8 to 12 matches.

Congested schedule for Central Flight

This week the Midwest Conference’s Central Flight will see a flurry of matches.

On Friday, May 17, longtime powerhouses the Madison 56ers will face the Wisconsinites, Eau Claire Aris FC. Things will happen fast for Eau Claire as it’ll then travel home to host Iowa’s Quad City Eagles.

Quad City will then drive across the state to face the Milwaukee Bavarians, who themselves will be playing on small rest having already visited the Minnesota Twin Stars on Saturday.

By the end of the weekend, the Central Flight will already have most of its teams with 2 matches under their belts.

Madison will have already faced the PDL’s Des Moines Menace in the US Open Cup round on Wednesday May 15. Both of those teams have a history of strong showings in the early rounds of the US Open Cup so it should be a good match, assuming that the teams have been able to get enough training in.

Keystone Flight continues competition

The Northeast Conference’s Keystone Flight will see more action this week.

Match fitness was an issue in FC Reading Revolution’s home opener against Hershey FC. Fatigue led to Reading surrendering 2 goals that lost it all the points last Saturday. For many and most of the NPSL’s teams (and the PDL’s teams), players have just finished their college semester and, at best, have only a handful practices together under their belts.

On Thursday, May 16, Reading will travel to face Pocono Snow SC and should be able to pull some points for the drive back home.

Two days later on Saturday, Junior Lone Star FC, a team out of Philadelphia, will host New York’s Clarkstown SC Eagles and Greater Binghamton FC will host FC Lehigh Valley United Sonic (a ridiculous mouthful that is only marginally better as the alphabet soup combination of FC LVU Sonic).

Rounding out the Flight’s week will be Hershey FC hosting fellow Pennsylvanians the Buxmont Torch FC, and most likely Hershey will record its second win of the season. Binghamton and Hershey will most likely still be tied for the top spot in the Flight come Monday.

Great Lakes Flight’s 2 new sides

Binghamton left the Midwest Conference’s Great Lakes Flight, but has been replaced by 2 expansion sides. Perhaps the most talked about team has been FC Sparta Michigan, a team that has earned the ire of Detroit City FC.

Detroit, or Le Rouge, sent more than 400 traveling supporters to back their side against Sparta, whose home opener saw an attendance of 461. Sparta will travel to face another test in FC Buffalo on Friday, while Detroit City will host AFC Cleveland. Cleveland lost to Sparta 1-0 and Sparta lost to Detroit 5-1 last week, so expect Detroit to really hammer Cleveland.

It might be a difficult run for Cleveland as it’ll only have one day’s rest before it heads down to face fellow Ohioans Zanesville Athletic in what has been called the Presidential Cup.

If Cleveland falls to Detroit in the Motor City’s always hostile Cass Tech Stadium and then are too heavy-legged when it faces Zanesville in its home opener, AFC’s 2013 season will have gotten off to a 3-loss start, which would effectively push the team out of playoff contention. Still, Cleveland is hardly in dire straits yet.

Turning things around out West

Teams that are desperately trying to turn their season around are both found in San Diego. On Saturday, the San Diego derby resumes as the Flash host Boca. San Diego Boca has no wins so far, although it does have 2 points, and its season is already half-way through.

It doesn’t look good for Boca given that the Sand Diego Flash have already flipped a switch. The Flash has won their last 2 matches and by significant margins – 5-0 against the West Conference’s Southern Flight whipping boys Las Vegas and then 4-1 against one of the best teams in the Flight Orange County Pateadores.

Orange County will head to FC Santa Clarita in the hopes of reclaiming the top spot in the Flight. But also looking to recapture the top spot will be FC Hasental, a team that will head to face the Las Vegas Stallions a team they thrashed 13-0 in the first game of the season. It’s going to be difficult to see Las Vegas getting any points. 

Also squaring off will be CD Aguiluchos against the San Francisco Stompers, a match that is essentially a battle for last place in the Northern Flight (in other words, inconsequential).

Real San Jose has been wildly inconsistent this season although it is in a good position in the Flight, sitting currently in the 2nd spot. RSJ will host Sonoma County, which will be well rested, looking to leapfrog San Jose and keep its undefeated record intact.

Two more Flights start

After last week’s openers for the Southeast Flight of the South Conference, this week will see the Mid-Atlantic and South Central Flights get underway.

In the Mid Atlantic on Saturday, RVA FC of Richmond, Va., will travel to square off against Major League Soccer’s DC United’s U-23s, and CASL Elite of Raleigh, N.C., will open their season on the road against Virginia’s Chesterfield United FC.

One of the more interesting match-ups will be the opener for the South Central Flight, pitting expansion sides Tulsa Athletics against the Liverpool Warriors of Plano, Texas.

Tulsa will be playing in the old Driller’s Stadium (the Drillers are the AA baseball team in Tulsa) and will be looking to attract the kind of crowds that use to come cheer the old NASL’s Tulsa Roughnecks. In the late 70s and early 80s, the Tulsa Roughnecks averaged 15,000 fans. The Athletics won’t bring in those kind of numbers, but it will definitely be great to see pro soccer back in the city.

Southeast scares

While Detroit’s supporters travel the Great Lakes Flight to terrorize teams, in the Southeast Flight it seems as though Chattanooga FC’s supporters will be making the rounds.

After drawing just over 2,700 in its home opener last week in its 5-0 victory over Rocket City United, Chattanooga will head further south to play the Gulf Coast Texans. These “Texans” are actually in Pensacola, Fla., which is entirely too confusing.

Meanwhile, Huntsville, Ala., Rocket City United will host the Knoxville Force. Both teams opened the season with a loss – last week Knoxville fell against the Mississippi Storm in front of nearly 500 fans, and will be looking to do much better.

Hopefully come Friday the Huntsville crowd comes out to match Knoxville’s attendance and cheer their side on to its first win of the season. Mississippi will welcome the black and purple of the New Orleans Jesters on Saturday. Expect the match between those two to be interesting as the Storm look to keep pace with Chattanooga.

Searching for Sunshine

Finally, the only Sunshine Flight match of the week will feature the Cape Coral Hurricanes hosting Jacksonville United FC on Saturday. Miami United has taken the early league in the Sunshine Flight and it will be difficult for Cape Coral to get its first win of the season as Jacksonville is always a staunch opponent. 

Predictions

Friday, May 17 – Pocono Snow SC vs. FC Reading Revolution; Rocket City United vs. Knoxville Force; Madison 56ers vs. Eau Claire Aries FC; FC Buffalo vs. FC Sparta Michigan; Detroit City FC vs. AFC Cleveland

Saturday, May 18 – Junior Lone Star FC vs. Clarkstown SC Eagles; Greater Binghamption FC vs. FC Lehigh Valley United Sonic; Tulsa Athletics vs. Liverpool Warriors; Mississippi Storm vs. New Orleans Jesters; Cape Coral Hurricanes vs. Jacksonville United FC; Chesterfield United FC vs. CASL Elite ; Gulfcoast Texans vs. Chattanooga FC; Minnesota Twin Stars vs. Milwaukee Bavarians; Eau Claire Aris FC vs. Quad City Eagles; San Diego Flash vs. San Diego Boca; FC Santa Clarita vs. Orange County Pateadores; CD Aguiluchos USA vs. San Francisco Stompers; Real San Jose vs. Sonoma County Sol; RVA FC vs. DC United U23

Sunday, May 19 – Hershey FC vs. Buxmont Torch FC; Milwaukee Bavarians vs. Quad City Eagles; Zanesville Athletic FC vs. AFC Cleveland; Las Vegas Stallions FC vs. FC Hasental

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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