NPSL Weekly: Favorites Take Hold

Top teams emerge in the West and Midwest Conferences
by Daniel Casey   |   Friday, June 14, 2013

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

This weekend will prove crucial as the NPSL marches forward in its season. Favorites are beginning to show themselves in respective conferences, which could spell the end for others in the league.

Meaningful Northeast matches

Hershey FC and Greater Binghamton FC sit 2 points ahead of Clarkstown SC Eagles and 3 points up on Junior Lone Star FC in the Keystone Flight making this weekend’s match-ups meaningful for separating the wheat from the shaft.

Binghamton will square off against FC Reading Revolution, a team that is nearly perfect in its middling status, on Saturday and then travel to face Buxmont Torch on Sunday. Taking both these matches would give Binghamton the top spot in the Flight and put pressure on Hershey, which won’t play again until Wednesday, June 19 against Clarkstown.

Clarkstown could go into its midweek match against Hershey a point up on if it can take full points against FC LVU Sonic this Saturday.

Dynamic South

As the league’s most populous Conference, the South is revealing itself to be very dynamic.

In its northern-most Flight, the Mid-Atlantic, things are still too early to call except for one certainty – CASL Elite are dreadful. Having played the most matches (6) CASL has managed only 2 points, scored only 4 goals and given up 17.

Barring an utterly remarkable turnaround, CASL will be nothing more than an easy 3 points when the rest of the Flight faces them. We won’t know for at least another 2 weeks which team will come into form first and best, but look to RVA FC and Myrtle Beach Mutiny to be the early favorites.

The South Central Flight is arguably the least competitive Flight in the league. But that doesn’t mean that the soccer isn’t exciting. So far, match-ups between these teams have been averaging nearly 4 goals a game.

Things have cooled of late as the teams have become more familiar with each other and found their own rhythms. The Houston Hurricanes have calmed down and tightened-up as in their last 3 matches they have only surrendered 1 goal. It’s good that the Hurricane’s defensive line has found its feet because facing the potent offense of Flight leaders, Tulsa Athletic, will require focus to avoid an embarrassing loss.

The other Houston team, Houston Regals SCA, have been beaten bloody by Tulsa (5-2, 7-0, & 6-0) and I can’t see that not happening again this weekend.

A Flight that has hit its stride is the South East, as just 3 points separate Chattanooga FC, Gulf Coast Texans, and Rocket City United. This weekend it appears that Rocket City have the advantage to move up the standings as they travel to the Mississippi Storm, a side that is finding itself on the wrong end of nearly every match-up.

Gulf Coast will host the New Orleans Jesters, who have played well but been unlucky, and Chattanooga will welcome the Knoxville Force, a side that regularly gives Chattanooga a hard time.

The Sunshine Flight will see the Georgia Revolution host Miami United and Cape Coral Hurricanes will travel to intrastate rival Jacksonville United. With a game in hand, Jacksonville has a 1 point lead over Georgia. Neither Miami nor Cape Coral are playing well, so there shouldn’t be any upsets. Yet Cape Coral is desperate to find its 1st win of the season so it could surprise Jacksonville by simply going all out.

Miami has played uninspiring soccer typified by a few weeks ago when it failed to reserve a field to play the Tampa Marauders. How this didn’t result in a 3-0 forfeit win for Tampa is a mystery. Needless to say, Miami is already making a case for an asterisked season. 

Undefeated teams in the Midwest

Nearly midway through its season, the Midwest Conference can boast 2 undefeated teams each of which sit at the top of their respective Flights.

Quad City Eagles are a pristine 6-0-0. Traveling to face the Madison 56ers may threaten that, but in all likelihood Quad City will come out of this weekend’s matches with 6 points.

In the Great Lakes Flight, it’s Detroit City FC that’s calling the shots, earning a 5-0-0 record and only surrendering 3 goals. Given that the lower half of the Flight has been bleeding goals (goals against: FC Sparta Michigan 20, AFC Cleveland 17, Zanesville Athletic 14), it doesn’t look like Detroit City will falter this weekend.

A team that could make a play this weekend is the Erie Admirals, as taking points from FC Buffalo or Detroit City would certainly put them into the conversation as a team to beat. However, it looks as though this season the Great Lakes Flight is going to come down to FC Buffalo and Detroit City.

Rising to the West’s top

As the lead Conference of the league, it looks as though the cream has risen to the top in the West. A decisive 7-4 victory over the Sacramento Gold last week has given Sonoma County Sol a 4-point lead in the Northern Flight.

With only a few matches left, Sonoma County looks to have won the Flight. It’s highly unlikely that their next opponents (Real San Jose, San Francisco Stompers and CD Aguiluchos USA) will be able to muster anything more than draws. Sonoma County can quite possibly end their regular season undefeated.

Meanwhile, in the Conference’s Southern Flight, things are getting interesting between leader FC Hasental and the San Diego Flash, who sit 1 point behind. This weekend will see the two face off and if the Flash takes all 3 points, they’ll be in the best position to keep the spot.

After this weekend against Hasental, the Flash will hose local rivals San Diego Boca and then the following week league whipping boy Las Vegas Stallions. It will be shocking if the Flash fail to win full points against Boca and Las Vegas.

Hasental, on the other hand, will have to face real competition after playing the Flash on Saturday. Hasental will host Las Vegas next weekend but then will travel to FC Santa Clarita the next. Although Hasental is the strong side in these match-ups, Santa Clarita will hardly be pushovers.

So it should be clear: This weekend’s match between the Hasental and the Flash is a crucial game; it will set the trajectory of the Flight winner.  

Predictions: Things aren’t looking too good for the predictions after the last two weeks. Right now my total sits at 56-70, so well under .500. Here’s hoping my suspicions for this weekend pan out.

Northwest Conference:

Seacoast United Mariners vs New York Red Bulls U23; Greater Binghamton FC vs FC Reading Revolution; FC Lehigh Valley United Sonic vs Clarkstown SC Eagles; Seacoast United Phantoms vs New York Red Bulls U23; Buxmont Torch FC vs Greater Binghamton FC; New York Athletic Club vs Brooklyn Italians; Morris County Colonials vs Junior Lone Star FC (draw)

South Conference:

Myrtle Beach Mutiny vs RVA FC; DC United U23 vs Chesterfield United FC; Houston Hurricanes vs Tulsa Athletics (draw); Houston Regals SCA vs Liverpool Warriors; Mississippi Storm vs Rocket City United; Gulf Coast Texans vs New Orleans Jesters; Chattanooga FC vs Knoxville Force (draw); Georgia Revolution vs Miami United; Jacksonville United vs Cape Coral Hurricanes; Houston Regals SCA vs Tulsa Athletics; Houston Hurricanes vs Liverpool Warriors

Midwest Conference:

FC Buffalo vs Erie Admirals; Detroit City FC vs Zanesville Athletic FC; Eau Claire Aris FC vs Minnesota Twin Stars; Madison 56ers vs Quad City Eagles (draw); FC Sparta Michigan vs Zanesville Athletic FC; Erie Admirals vs Detroit City FC; Quad City Eagles vs Minnesota Twin Stars

West Conference:

FC Santa Clarita vs San Diego Boca (draw); San Diego Flash vs FC Hasental; Las Vegas Stallions vs Orange County Pateadores; Real San Jose vs San Francisco Stompers (draw); Sacramento Gold vs CD Aguiluchos USA

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.