NPSL Weekly: Season Marches Forward

FC Hasental’s Penate leads the league in scoring and Tulsa tries to give back
by Daniel Casey   |   Friday, May 24, 2013

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

The Keystone Flight of the Northeast Conference has just started cooking and looks as though it will end up being one of the most contested Flights in the league.

Although Greater Binghamton FC has the current advantage (2 matches, 2 wins and 0 goals surrendered having easily handled FC LVU Sonic 2-0 this last Saturday), Hershey FC seems to be the squad most in form.

As for the remaining 7 teams in the Flight, they’ve yet to really get going with most only having one match and maybe a week’s worth of practice together under their belts.

Junior Lone Star FC was trounced by Clarkstown SC Eagles this last weekend 4-0. FC Reading Revolution redeemed themselves a bit after their opening day lost to FC Hershey by grinding out a 1-1 draw at East Stroudsburg against the Pocono Snow SC.

This week pits Binghamton against Clarkstown; Pocono Snow against Hershey FC; and Buxmont Torch against Junior Lone Star.

Clarkstown SC will be Binghamton’s first real test of the season; if the Eagles do defeat Greater Binghamton, then it may have muscled into a share of the top of the table. It will depend on the result of Hershey FC away to Pocono Snow.

I have to suspect that Hershey will come out the winner but the Snow, once they’re warmed up, do surprise.

The Buxmont Torch fought a good fight against Hershey FC last week only falling 1-0. Buxmont managed a draw with FC Reading midweek and should be able to get points against Junior Lone Star, a side that is vastly underwhelming so far this season.

Atlantic Flight continues slow pace

The Northeast Conference will have only its second match of the Atlantic Flight this Sunday. It seems as though this Flight has dragged its feet scheduling-wise but come June should be in full effect.

Sunday will see the Rhode Island Reds host the New York Red Bulls U-23 side. Rhode Island lost its home opener to the Brooklyn Italians earlier this month and will be looking to get its first points of the season. I have grave doubts about the quality of the Red Bulls U23 team, so expect the Reds to upend the Red Bulls.

Second week for South

The South Conference breaks into its second full week of play. This last Saturday saw some fun matches.

The Houston Derby took a few people by surprise as a last minute addition to the schedule. The re-branded Houston Hurricanes took their Celtic inspired green kits to face the Houston Regals SCA. The result of the match was a 1-1 draw, so look for these 2 teams to want a bit more out of their next meeting on June 8.

The other match-up in the South Central Flight was between Liverpool Warriors and Tulsa Athletics, which Tulsa won 3-2. It was an entertaining match as Tulsa breathed new life into the old Drillers Stadium (long time minor league baseball park) in front of crowd of over 2,700.

Tulsa has also taken it upon itself to contribute what it can to the tornado victims of neighboring Moore, Okla. Until May 31, 10 percent of all ticket sales will go to the victims. It’s a small gesture, but if the crowds keep coming out it might do a large amount of good.

This coming weekend will be a busy one for the South Central Flight. Tulsa Athletics and Liverpool warriors will venture farther south to face off against the Houston teams on Friday (Tulsa vs.. Regals and Liverpool Warriors vs. Hurricanes), get a day of rest and then swap opponents for Sunday (Tulsa hosted by Hurricanes and Liverpool hosted by Regals).

Meanwhile in the South East Flight, the revitalized New Orleans Jesters ventured into the Mississippi Storm’s home turf and came away with decisive 3 points, winning 3-1.

Even though Chattanooga FC kicked off its season with a bang (5-0 victory at home), it has since cooled. Chattanooga took a hard loss in the US Open Cup to the PDL’s Carolina Dynamo (4-4, losing on penalty kicks after added extra time) and couldn’t fix things as it lost in league play to newcomers the Gulfcoast Texans in Pensacola, Fla., on Saturday 1-0.

Chattanooga will host Mississippi this coming Saturday and the match will probably prove to be an exciting on with both sides eager to pull themselves out of early season slumps. It’ll be a challenge for Mississippi as the day before they will have been at Rocket City United.

Rocket City is a team that is looking for redemption after letting Chattanooga walk all over them. Expect both sides to come out attacking, because both should be playing better than they have been.

Gulfcoast Texans of Pensacola, Fla., will host the Knoxville Force on Friday, and I expect the match to be a low-scoring affair that may very well end up a draw. Knoxville will then swing westward the next day to visit New Orleans. I suspect that the quick turnaround will definitely have an effect on Knoxville. It’ll be a hard weekend for them but if they can come out of it having avoided two defeats then it should be considered a success.

In the Sunshine Flight, the Georgia Revolution will finally get some league play in after getting bumped from the US Open Cup by the North American Soccer League’s Atlanta Silverbacks.

Squaring off this Friday against Jacksonville United FC in Jacksonville, Fla., will prove to be a tough rebound match for Georgia. Even more difficult will be playing on just one day’s rest as Georgia travels down the peninsula to face Flight leaders Miami United on Sunday.

Georgia will need to come away with some amount of points in order to keep their morale up and stay in the conversation about the Flight’s leaders. 

The Tampa Marauders will face the Cape Coral Hurricanes in the third leg of the Gulf Coast Cup. Both Tampa and Cape Coral are eager for points and want a win.

And just as the Northeast Conference’s Atlantic Flight has been slow to start so has the South Conference’s Mid-Atlantic Flight. Last weekend saw it open with a 1-1 draw between RVA FC out of Richmond, Va., and DC United U-23. This coming weekend, fellow Virginians Chesterfield United FC will host Myrtle Beach FC.

Midwest magic

Last weekend was the opener for the Midwest Conference’s Central Flight and it saw a good deal of goals.

After getting bumped from the US Open Cup by the PDL’s Des Moines Menace, who went on to eliminate the NASL’s Minnesota United FC, the Madison 56ers handed Eau Claire Aris FC a 4-0 thumping.

Eau Claire packed its bags and drove to La Crosse, Wisc., where they again were roughed up, this time by the Iowa side Quad City Eagles, 3-2.

There was no rest for Quad City as it then drove across Wisconsin to square off against the Milwaukee Bavarians, who had themselves just come from St. Paul, Minn., after handing the Minnesota Twin Stars a 3-0 loss. Quad City placed 3 more goals in the back of the net and handed the Bavarians a 3-0 loss.

One weekend in and already Quad City is top of the table with 6 points and Eau Claire sits at the bottom having surrendered 7 goals in 2 days. The Minnesota Twin Stars will travel to Quad City on Saturday and then the next day the Eagles will host Eau Claire.

Aris will want a bit of revenge on the Eagles, so look to that match to be interesting. Quad City might be playing on a bit of a high. Wednesday they host a friendly against the German side SV Blau-Weiss Wiehre Freiburg (a tenth tier team in Germany but comparable to the American fourth tier that is the NPSL). The German team will also stop off to match up against the Madison 56ers on Saturday.

Great Lake rivals clash

Over in the Great Lakes Flight of the Midwest Conference, Detroit City FC held off AFC Cleveland 2-1 in a vital Rust Belt Cup match last Friday.

Cleveland bounced back quickly as it faced fellow Ohioans Zanesville AFC in Zanesville on a day’s rest the coming Sunday. With a 3-2 win, Cleveland kept itself from falling out of contention in the Flight.

This Friday Cleveland will host last season’s champions the Erie Admirals and Zanesville will travel to Detroit on Saturday. It’ll be tough for Zanesville as the squad is still without points and will find nothing but a hostile crowd in Detroit. Cleveland will again have one day’s rest before suiting up again, this time they’ll travel to face FC Sparta Michigan (who were soundly beaten 3-1 by FC Buffalo last week).

Erie will be having a similar turnaround as it has its home opener Sunday against FC Buffalo. Erie gets little to no respect in the Flight from the supporters of other teams, but yet it finds a way to win, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Erie opens its season with 2 wins. Expect both Erie matches to be hard fought affairs. FC Buffalo is in good form and share the top of the table and Cleveland always digs its heels in.

Western woes

Finally, the West Conference, which has been underway for nearly 2 months now, had another big weekend.

The San Diego Derby, Part II, saw the San Diego Flash host San Diego Boca and win decisively, 4-1. The Flash has won both the matches so far this year with at least one more face-off scheduled, but it looks like the Flash have San Diego bragging rights this season over Boca. The win puts the Flash just 1 point off from the 3 teams that share first place in the Southern Flight (FC Hasental, Orange County Patedores and FC Santa Clarita).

One of those top teams, the Orange County Patedores, got back on top with a 4-2 win over fellow table toppers FC Santa Clarita last Saturday. It is likely that Orange County would’ve had the top spot to itself if not for a still controversial forfeit hoisted upon them by the Las Vegas Stallions FC. That forfeit is the only thing that keeps Las Vegas out of last place and San Diego Boca at the bottom of the table.

The poor quality of Las Vegas was again demonstrated last Sunday as the Stallions wilted against visitors FC Hasental. Ericson Penate, whose hat trick against San Diego Boca just earned him Player of the Week honors, notched 3 more goals against Las Vegas. If he keeps these performances up, the 19-year-old Penate may just draw some interest from NASL or MLS sides. FC Hasental (with Penate and his 8 goals this season) will host San Diego Boca this weekend; look for more pain to be piled on Boca.

While Boca visits Hasental, the Flash will host Orange County in a matchup that will definitely alter the Flight table. Orange County’s lone legit stumble this season was its 4-1 loss to the Flash 2 weeks ago. The very same match seems to have confirmed the Flash’s own confidence so this match should be a serious affair.

And while these sides beat each other up, FC Santa Clarita will travel to Las Vegas to again feast on the club. However, Las Vegas had its most competitive game against Santa Clarita (a 4-3 loss) so it’s entirely possible that the Stallions won’t be pushover so easily. Anything’s possible.

In the Northern Flight, the enduring San Francisco Stompers are the only team in the conference without a point. It’s been a rough spring for the team. Last week saw it fold 4-1 to the continually underwhelming CD Aguiluchos USA.

This weekend San Francisco will welcome Flight leaders the Sonoma County Sol. It seems unlikely that San Francisco even though it is at home is going to be able to take any points away from the match. Sonoma County handed Real San Jose a definitive 4-1 loss last week and continue to maintain an undefeated record (4-2-0) while scoring the most goals in the Flight and surrendering the least. Stats which must annoy the Sacramento Gold, who stand one point off. Sacramento will take on Real San Jose and there is no reason to expect that the Gold won’t maintain their pace just behind Sonoma County.

Predictions: Last week my predictions were a mixed bag: 11 correct & 10 wrong. But, technically, I’m still above .500, so with that in mind here are my predictions for this week.

Northwest Conference

Greater Binghamton FC vs. Clarkstown SC Eagles; Pocono Snow SC vs. Hershey FC; Buxmont Torch FC vs. Junior Lone Star FC (draw); Rhode Island Reds vs. New York Red Bulls U23

South Conference

Gulfcoast Texans vs. Knoxville Force (draw); Houston Hurricanes vs. Liverpool Warriors; Houston Regals SCA vs. Tulsa Athletics; Rocket City United vs. Mississippi Storm; Jacksonville United FC vs. Georgia Revolution; Chesterfield United FC vs. Myrtle Beach FC; New Orleans Jester vs. Knoxville Force; Chattanooga FC vs. Mississippi Storm; Miami United SC vs. Georgia Revolution; Houston Hurricanes vs. Tulsa Athletics; Houston Regals SCA vs. Liverpool Warriors (draw)

Midwest Conference:

AFC Cleveland vs. Erie Admirals (draw); Quad City Eagles vs. Minnesota Twin Stars; Detroit City FC vs. Zanesville Athletic FC; Quad City Eagles vs. Eau Claire Aris FC; Erie Admirals vs. FC Buffalo; FC Sparta Michigan vs. AFC Cleveland (draw)

West Conference:

San Francisco Stompers vs. Sonoma County Sol; San Diego Flash vs. Orange County Pateadores (draw); FC Hasental vs. San Diego Boca FC; Las Vegas Stallions FC vs. Futbol Club Santa Clarita; Sacramento Gold vs. Real San Jose

Daniel CASEY

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.