NPSL Weekly: Championship Set for Sunday

NPSL plans to announce all-league and supporters’ teams
by Daniel Casey   |   Friday, August 02, 2013

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

So it is finally here, the summer has led to this moment – the NPSL Championship Match.

On Sunday Aug. 4, the league will crown a new champion at Sports Backers Stadium in Richmond, Va. It looks like the final will be a battle of the best with each team being undefeated, RVA FC at 9-2-0 and Sonoma County Sol at 12-3-0. Once again, Tourbeau Sport Group will be providing the option to watch the match online via streaming and it would certainly be worth it to view.

One of the narratives of the final is the home field advantage that expansion side RVA FC will possess. Since no team in the NPSL has ever repeated or won multiple titles, it seems history will favor RVA FC.

Yet Sonoma has been here before, making their 3rd appearance in the league final (having won the title in 2009 and been runners-up in 2005). Sonoma has been a dominant side this year and are poised to be the 1st team in NPSL history to win a 2nd title. It will not be easy for Sonoma, RVA FC have a stingy defense and a passionate following for such a new team.

Although I’ve enjoyed seeing RVA FC make it this far and really grow the game in central Virginia, I have to think once the dust settles it’ll be Sonoma County Sol as NPSL Champions for 2013.

Special teams

The league will be putting together an All-NPSL team and a separate Supporters’ XI (each set as a standard 4-4-2). It is difficult to gauge just who are the top players in the league for several reasons.

Firstly, teams and the league don’t maintain a very good stat record. There are some teams that only list its roster and not a single stat, and there are others that have painfully incomplete information.

Secondly, finding video of matches requires focused digging and even then usually only brings up random, low-resolution highlights.

Finally, given the nature of the league (a summer league of amateurs and semi-pros) there is a lot of player turn over meaning that only a handful of players across the league have featured every match for their team.

NPSL Championship Bracket

Due to this, the Supporters’ XI might just be the best gauge for ‘on-the-ground’ decisions on who are the best the in league.

For my own part, I don’t feel I can accurately create an All-NPSL team due to the lack of information, but I can create a top 18 so that’s what I give you now with stats provided by the league site.

Greater Binghamton FC’s forward Bozidar Jelovac, who ended the season with 9 goals over 6 matches. Junior Lone Star FC missed the playoffs but midfielder Joe-Joe Jappah logged 7 matches with 4 goals and an assist and teammate forward Seydou Ba netted 4 goals over 9 matches with 2 assists.

Chattanooga FC is a premier team in the league and has a plethora of riches player-wise, but it was the team’s goalkeeper Gregory Hartley who really stood out this season.

Knoxville had a middling season but Niall McCabe was a bright spot with 5 goals in 5 games. Similarly, Rocket City United had hoped for better but defender Moses Adeniran notched 5 goals in 4 matches and midfielder Khurram Shazad got his 5 goals by only playing 3 matches. The Liverpool Warriors played second fiddle to Tulsa but their VcMor Eligwa netted 8 goals in 5 matches.

Detroit City FC was the loudest and visceral team in the league and completely packed with high-end performers. Zeke Harris only scored 1 goal but was credited with 5 assists over 11 matches, and Zach Myers got 6 goals in 10 games. AFC Cleveland’s forward pairing of Vinny Bell (6 goals, 4 assists in 9 games) and Tommy Schmitt (4 goals and 3 assists over 8 matches) were nothing to sneeze at.

The Sacramento Gold’s MVP has to be John Jones II, who scored 7 goals in the same amount of matches. Sonoma County Sol punched their ticket to the final due in no small part to the play of Ross Middlemiss who scored 9 goals over 7 games.

FC Hasental just exploded with goals during the regular season. The team’s forwards Gustavo Villalobos and Ericson Penate each notched 10 goals while only playing 7 and 5 matches, respectively. San Diego Flash had one of the most dangerous defenders in the league with Michael Sommerfield, who played 6 games and scored 4 goals. And finally, FC Santa Clarita forward Tyler Coombes played 5 games and managed to score 7 goals.

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.