NPSL Weekly: Top 5 Team Crests

Battles for the final playoff spots, top 5 team crests and ideas on promotion/pelegation
by Daniel Casey   |   Friday, July 05, 2013

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

The South has 3 of their 4 Flight champions determined. Chattanooga FC, Tulsa Athletics and Jacksonville United all clinched the title this last week.

The only remaining question is what team will emerge from the Mid-Atlantic Flight—RVA FC, Myrtle Beach Mutiny, or even DC United U23.

RVA FC has the clear advantage, and even though Myrtle Beach has been hot of late, they will have to face Jacksonville United on Saturday while RVA FC will take on Chesterfield United.

The Northeast Conference will go for another week as the poor Atlantic Flight catches up with the rest of the league. In the Atlantic, it is extremely unlikely that the 2 playoff teams won’t be New York Red Bulls U23 and the Brooklyn Italians. However, once these 2 teams get into the playoffs I highly doubt they will last very long.

The story in the Northeast is the Keystone Flight. Although Greater Binghamton FC is currently in first place, FC Lehigh Valley United Sonic could overtake them this weekend. FC LVU Sonic will host the death spiraling Hershey FC on Wednesday and last place Buxmont Torch on Saturday; they will likely take away six points and stand four points ahead of Binghamton.

But FC LVU Sonic isn’t the only surging team in the Keystone. Junior Lone Star FC has managed to climb over Clarkstown SC Eagles to make 3rd place their own. Currently with 19 points, Junior Lone Star could very well claw their way into 2nd place.

Detroit City FC has made the playoffs and is now playing for prestige, being the only team in the league with a perfect record (it is currently 10-0-0). It won’t be a cakewalk for Detroit, however, as AFC Cleveland will host the team on Friday. Every meeting between these 2 clubs is hard-fought and although Detroit usually comes out on top, Cleveland will be fighting to walk away with a result to secure its place as the last playoff team from the Great Lakes Flight.

Last weekend’s victory over hapless FC Sparta Michigan certainly helped Cleveland’s chances, but if they lose to Detroit and Sparta somehow beat the Erie Admirals, things will get complicated.

What this reveals is the poor design of the Midwest Conference’s playoff structure: 1 team from the Central Flight and 4 from the Great Lakes Flight. A team like FC Sparta Michigan, a team that hasn’t won a game since May 26 and has only earned a single point since then should never be part of any playoff discussion.

Meanwhile, in the Central Flight, only Quad City Eagles will be part of the playoffs, even though the Milwaukee Bavarians have 18 points from 9 matches (Erie also have 18 points, but has played 11 matches). The structure is flawed and unfair; it should be like similar conferences and take the top 2 teams from each flight.

It’s the last regular season weekend for the West Conference. Sonoma County Sol and Sacramento Gold have clinched 1st and 2nd in the Northern Flight, while FC Hasental has won the Southern Flight.

The only remaining battle is for second place in the Southern Flight and the final playoff spot for the conference. FC Santa Clarita will travel to face San Diego Flash on Saturday to determine who advances. The San Diego Flash has a 1-point advantage over FC Santa Clarita, so only a win will put FC Santa Clarita into the playoffs whereas the Flash can advance with a draw.

The Flash have to be considered favorites, given their superior goal scoring potential and better defense, but anything can happen. The winner will play at Sonoma County in the playoffs while FC Hasental will host Sacramento.

Top 5 Team Crests in NPSL

1.   Chattanooga FC

Chattanooga FC, NPSl - Courtesy Chattanooga FC

I don’t much care for crests that incorporate soccer balls, but Chattanooga FC are able to do it in a classy, somewhat subtle manner.

2.   Detroit City FC

Detroit City FC, NPSL - Courtesy Detroit City FC

Detroit puts its city’s most iconic statue, The Spirit of Detroit, on a fleur-de-lis background to pay homage to their French founding. This is an all around great crest.

3.   Brooklyn Italians

Brooklyn Italians, NPSL - Courtesy Brooklyn Italians

The Italians have aligned itself with the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. Why not.

4.   Sacramento Gold

Sacramento Gold, NPSL - Courtesy Sacramento Gold

This crest is odd for me, I don’t know why I like it but I like it. I think it’s mostly font based.

5.   Morris County Colonials, FC Hasental and Jacksonville United

FC Hasental, Jacksonville United, Morris County Colonials, NPSL

So although I’m not a fan of the soccer ball worked into a crest, I have to accept it. In that vein, I present a three-way tie between the Morris County Colonials (I love maroon and who doesn’t like cannons), Jacksonville United FC (the rising sun, er, I mean, soccer ball), and FC Hasental (a crest design that makes me want to watch Euro highlights from the late 60s and 70s) for fifth on my list.

Honorable Mention: DC United U23 is also known as Federal City FC. If they were to officially change their name to that and adopt this crest, it would earn the top spot.

Future of the League

NPSL Commissioner Michael Hitchcock gave an interview last week where he mentioned the most controversial topic in US soccer – promotion and relegation.

The very idea polarizes soccer fans and, surprisingly, prompts some of the most vitriolic you’ll ever encounter over American soccer. The NPSL is a large league, so the possibility of it deploying some form of pro/rel makes sense from an experimental standpoint.

However, the greatest advantage that the NPSL has is that it is able to keep costs for teams low by operating with a divisional structure that keeps travel costs at a minimum. Creating a reserve league or shadow league simply for the purposes of pro/rel would probably be a bad idea. A more productive idea would be to come to an arrangement with the USL’s Premier Development League.

The PDL and NPSL are both considered the 4th tier of the US soccer pyramid, although it wouldn’t be out of place to give a slight advantage in terms of quality of play to the PDL. Essentially, you have similar players, a similar schedule and similar conferences and divisions.

I propose a pro/rel system with the PDL, which I believe would definitely improve development for US soccer by expanding opportunity.

The process could be very simple: the PDL as the promotion league with each league keeping its own championship structure, but the winner of the NPSL gets promoted to PDL and placed into the regionally appropriate division and the worst team in the PDL gets relegated to the NPSL and placed into a regionally appropriate division.

This would keep costs down and provide clear incentives for quality play. Also, it wouldn’t need to just be 1 team from each league getting promoted or relegated. You could take the winners of each NPSL conference (4 teams) and given promotion and relegate the worst teams from each PDL conference (4 teams). Quality would not suffer, costs would be minimal, regional rivalries would increase in strength and fan bases would expand.

Each league would also maintain its independence regarding expansion franchises and league policies. This would simply create a mutually beneficial partnership that would allow players the freedom they need to develop and fans the benefit of more soccer played.

Predictions: This past week went fairly well, I ended with a 16-11 record bringing my season total to 99-108. I hope that as the final matches roll in I can climb up and reach a break even season.

Northwest Conference:

FC LVU Sonic vs. Hershey FC; New York Red Bulls U23 vs. Seacoast United Mariners; Clarkstown SC; Eagles vs. Pocono Snow SC (draw); Brooklyn Italians vs. Seacoast United Phantoms; Hershey FC vs. FC Reading Revolution (draw); Buxmont Torch FC vs. FC LVU Sonic; New York Red Bulls U23 vs. Rhode Island Reds; New York Athletic Club vs. Seacoast United Phantoms; Brooklyn Italians vs. Seacoast United Mariners

South Conference:

Jacksonville United vs. Tampa Marauders; Myrtle Beach Mutiny vs. Jacksonville United (draw); Chesterfield United FC vs. RVA FC; Liverpool Warriors vs. Tulsa Athletics; Houston Hurricanes vs. Houston Regals SCA (draw); New Orleans Jesters vs. Mississippi Storm; Miami United SC vs. Cape Coral Hurricanes; Rocket City United vs. Knoxville Force; Georgia Revolution vs. Tampa Marauders; CASL Elite vs. DC United U23

Midwest Conference:

Zanesville Athletic vs. FC Buffalo; Erie Admirals vs. FC Sparta Michigan; AFC Cleveland vs. Detroit City FC; Quad City Eagles vs. Eau Claire Aris; FC Buffalo vs. Detroit City FC; Quad City Eagles vs. Madison 56ers

West Conference:

San Diego Flash vs. FC Santa Clarita; Las Vegas Stallions vs. San Diego Boca; Sonoma County Sol vs. CD Aguiluchos USA; Sacramento Gold vs. San Francisco Stompers

Rankings: You’ll notice in this week’s Power Rankings a clear divide between the top half and bottom half. It’s clear what teams are the dominate ones in the league, but several squads are still pressing for playoff position and have become hotter than teams with better records. So, here I’ve tried to give credit to that:

1. Detroit City FC
2. Chattanooga FC
3. FC Hasental
4. Tulsa Athletics
5. Sonoma County Sol
6. Jacksonville United
7. FC Lehigh Valley United Sonic
8. Junior Lone Star FC
9. Myrtle Beach Mutiny
10. Erie Admirals

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.