West Region Kicks Off NPSL Season

The NPSL season is officially under way as the West reason saw several fixtures over opening weekend. Here are the results:

San Diego Flash 3 – 1 Santa Clarita Storm

Sonoma County Sol 3 – 3 Sacramento Gold

FC Force 4 – 3 Del Rey City

FC Hasental 8 – 1 Temecula FC

CD Aguiluchos 1 – 0 Real San Jose

Golden Gate USOC Qualifying 2014

Credit: Terry Forte @strongpoint71

Credit: Terry Forte @strongpoint71

Thanks to @strongpoint71 for putting together this bracket for the 2104 US Open Cup qualifying campaign of the NPSL’s Golden Gate conference. Predictions are always a tough thing in a league that relies on college players as squads tend to vary from year to year, but if history is any indication then the Sonoma County Sol (2013 NPSL national runners up) will be the team to beat.

Incidentally, I am curious how the draw was completed as Real San Jose has a bye in the first round.*

*EDIT: Per @strongpoint71 (of the San Francisco Stompers front office), the draw is entirely random and not based on last seasons results.

Weekend in Review 5/5

Brooklyn Italians 4 @ Rhode Island Reds FC 3 (NE Atlantic Flight): The Brooklyn Italians outscored the Rhode Island Reds in a high scoring and somewhat controversial thriller. The Reds showed dramatic improvement over last season, and could have stolen three points if it weren’t for giving up two goals off of penalty kicks. Despite the match drama, Rhode Island can feel good about playing the Italians so close and should feel confident that they have a team that can compete this year. Brooklyn can feel good about the three points, but will need to clean up their play if they want to separate themselves from the rest of the Atlantic Flight.

Miami United SC 3 @ Cape Coral Hurricanes 0 (S Sunshine Flight): Miami United SC took the lead in the Everglades Cup with a sound 3-0 win in the opening match of NPSL Sunshine Flight play. Miami now leads the four game series with 7 points to the Hurricanes 1. Miami scored the initial goal just two minutes in on a perfect through ball which Matthias Carizo easily punched pass the keeper. Miami added a second in the 31′ when Mario Gomez headed in a well placed corner. Cape Coral had a couple quality chances of their own, with Cody Antonini hitting the woodwork but the crossbar was as close as they were to get. R. Caciedo sealed the match with a third goal in the 55′. Each side picked up one yellow a piece.

Las Vegas Stallions 3 @ Orange County Pateadores 0 (W Southern Flight): Orange County Pateadores was forced to forfeit the match when a last minute agreement on a match time change could not be reached. This is the first loss for the Pateadores and the first win for Las Vegas.

FC Santa Clarita Storm 1 @ San Diego Boca 1 (W Southern Flight): Santa Clarita managed to extend their unbeaten streak to four straight games, while San Diego Boca will be glad to pick up a point and avoid another tick in the loss column. San Diego Boca brought a lot of pressure against the Storm and it seems to have paid off as they limited Santa Clarita to a single goal – the first time a team has been able to do that since OC Pateadores 2-0 victory. Santa Clarita’s lone goal came as the Boca keeper mishandled the ball and forward Andres Beun0 headed it in. Interestingly, the two clubs have played to a draw 5 times in the last three seasons.

Sonoma County Sol 2 @ Sacramento Gold 2 (W Northern Flight): Sacramento seemed to have the game safely in hand with a 2-1 lead and a man advantage as the clock ran down – until a masterful strike by Sol player Justin Ferriera from 25 yards out found its way home with only thirty seconds left in the match. Red cards and late game heroics seem to have become a story line in the Northern Flight, and with the draw the Sol managed to maintain a 1 point lead over the Gold in the standings.

CD Aguiluchos USA 1 @ Real San Jose 1 (W Northern Flight): After a scoreless first half, both teams found the back of the net once each as the match ended in a 1-1 draw. CD Aguiluchos will be happy to pick up another point, while the draw is a set back in San Jose’s attempt to chase down Sonoma and Sacramento. Forward Jorge Ruiz had the goal for the Aguiluchos while it was Jesse Kehoe who scored for Real San Jose.

Houston Dutch Lions 1 (PDL) v Houston Hurricanes 1 (Friendly): The Houston Hurricanes played the Houston Dutch Lions of the PDL to a 1-1 draw last week. The Lions won the possession battle solidly for the first 65 minutes of the match, but some fresh legs in the last 20 minutes of the match changed the tempo of the game and the Hurricanes broke through in the 88′ to score the equalizer. You can check out a video of the match highlights here.

Regals SCA 2 v Houston Dutch Lions 6 (PDL) (Friendly): Unlike their flight rivals, Regals SCA did not fair so well against the Dutch Lions. Despite scoring two goals, the Regals defense could not fend off the repeated Lions attacks and allowed 6 goals by the time the final whistle blew. If these two matches against a common opponent are any indication, Regals SCA will need to find a way to tighten up the defense before they open league play.

 

NPSL Match Predictions 5/3

Credit: Rhode Island Reds FC

Brooklyn Italians @ Rhode Island Reds FC (NE Atlantic Flight): The storied Brooklyn Italians will travel north to Providence to open the season against sophomore club Rhode Island Reds FC. Brooklyn is a flight contender every year, and there is no reason to think this season will be any different. Rhode Island finished respectably in the middle of the table for their first season and saw twin brothers Paulo and Pedro Mendes sign contracts with the Atlanta Silverbacks of NASL – with Pedro even being named NASL Player of the Week after a 2 goal performance led the Silverbacks to a victory over the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers. The Reds lost a US Open Cup qualifying match to Mass Premier Soccer Men’s Open team 1-0 earlier this year. Without many pre-season results to draw from, I predict Brooklyn wins 2-1.

Miami United SC @ Cape Coral Hurricanes (S Sunshine Flight): Miami United will travel to Cape Coral for the 3rd leg of the Everglades Cup and the opening match of  Sunshine Flight play. After a blowout in the first leg Cape Coral managed a well played draw last weekend in the 2nd leg with a boost from signings just heading home from college. It’s always tough to play the same team so many times, and I give a slight edge to Miami as the home side – Miami 2-1, though I wouldn’t be surprised if that scoreline ended the other way around.

Las Vegas Stallions @ Orange County Pateadores (W Southern Flight): A languishing Stallions side will travel to Orange County to face a superior foe in Pateadores. The best Las Vegas can hope for is to garnish a point from a draw, but if past scorelines are any indication this match is tilted heavily in favor of the Pats. OC Pateadores win by a wide margin, 5-0.

FC Santa Clarita Storm @ San Diego Boca (W Southern Flight): Santa Clarita will look to continue their winning ways with a fourth in a row since a season opening loss to OC Pateadores. San Diego Boca has no wins and only 1 point so far from a tie with the Las Vegas Stallions. Santa Clarita wins 3-2.

Sonoma County Sol @ Sacramento Gold (W Northern Flight): Sonoma County will travel to Sacramento for a match with serious implications for the flight title race. These teams have traded wallopings this season, and there is a good chance this match could be another entertaining and high scoring affair. I think the Gold edge this one, 3-2.

CD Aguiluchos USA @ Real San Jose (W Northern Flight): After a great start, Real San Jose has had some unfortunate luck and finds themselves in a must win situation if they want to make a flight title run. Aguiluchos continue to struggle, scoring only 5 goals so far this season. The teams have met once already this season with San Jose winning 2-0. I expect a similar result for this match.

Georgia Revolution @ Colorado Rovers (USSSA): Georgia will travel to Denver to face the Colorado Rovers of the USSSA in a US Open Cup play-in game. The travel and altitude will certainly be factors in this match, but the Revolution proved last year they could hang with tough competition after a close 1-0 loss to NASL club Atlanta Silverbacks.

San Francisco Stompers v San Ramon Soccer: San Francisco has a bye week in NPSL play but will play a friendly against San Ramon Soccer. San Francisco is winless in league play, and a win in this friendly could be the confidence booster the club needs to take the next step.

Regals SCA v Houston Dutch Lions (PDL): The Houston Dutch Lions played the Houston Hurricanes to a 1-1 draw last week, and this week will take on Regals SCA in a friendly.

NPSL Weekend in Review 4/21

Regular season action continued in the West Regions while several South and Northeast Region clubs continue to finalize rosters and hold pre-season friendlies in anticipation of their May start.

The Sunshine Flight (South Region) saw the second leg of the Gulf Coast Cup as hosts Tampa Marauders defeated the Cape Coral Hurricanes by the same 2 – 0 margin as the first leg. Cape Coral has now been held scoreless in three consecutive matches versus NPSL opponents (vs. Tampa 2-0, 2-0, and vs. Miami United 6-0).

Tampa Marauders vs. Cape Coral Hurricanes [photo credit: Cape Coral Hurricanes]

 

The West Region slate was full and the action intense as every match ended with only a goal difference or less. In the Southern Flight the Santa Clarita Storm soured the home opener of San Diego Flash and leapfrogged them in the standings to claim sole possession of third place. The West region also saw a battle of the undefeated as FC Hasental hosted OC Pateadores in a thrilling 2 – 2 draw. OC Pateadores proved their mettle by going ahead 2 – 1 late in the game and playing with only 10 men, but the high octane Hasental offense wasn’t to be held to one goal and scored the equalizer deep into stoppage time to salvage the draw. The teams remain tied atop the Flight, though Hasental leads in goal differential by a significant margin. At the other end of the table the Las Vegas Stallions notched their first league point holding visitors San Diego Boca FC to a scoreless draw. After a blowout in their opening match the Stallions have have progressively improved, though the point is also the first for a SD Boca side that has a long way to go to live up to pre-season expectations.

In the Northern Flight (Golden Gate Conference) table leaders Real San Jose suffered their first loss away at Sacramento Gold in a hotly contested match which is being protested by Real San Jose. Blood was drawn after a reckless Sacramento challenge only minutes into the match, which set the stage for the rest of the game. With the win, Sacramento creeps into third place only one point behind Real San Jose and Sonoma County with a game in hand over San Jose. Rounding out the Golden Gate action the Sonoma County Sol hosted the San Francisco Stompers. Having been outscored in their first two matches 9-1, San Francisco had significant work to do on both ends of the field to come away with a victory. The Stompers did well until the 44th minute when Sonoma tallied their first to take a 1 – 0 lead into halftime. San Francisco returned from the break and equalized early in the 50th minute only to to give up an own goal and a penalty kick within the next five minutes to give Sonoma a 3-1 lead. San Francisco kept pressing and pulled one goal back in the 82nd, but couldn’t get any closer as the match finished with a final score of San Francisco 2 Sonoma County 3.

Back on the East Coast, Junior Lone Star FC played friendlies away at Mid-Atlantic expansion club Chesterfield United and to aspiring NPSL club Electric City in Scranton, PA. Junior Lone Star scored the only goal of the match vs. Chesterfield in the 15th minute and held off several quality attacks and a penalty kick to seal the victory 1 – 0. The match versus Electric City proved a bit more exciting with a flurry of second half action. Lone Star took the lead just before the break in the 44th minute. Electric City came back from half time and equalized, only to go down again after another Lone Star goal. JLSFC’s lead was short lived however as Electric City capitalized on a poorly handled back pass to make it a 2 – 2 game. Lone Star was finished, and scored the final goal of the match in the 85th minute to clinch the game 3 – 2.

Junior Lone Star returns to pre-season action next weekend with a pair of friendlies against Hosa FC before they travel to Greater Binghamton FC on May 11th for their season opener.

In other news around the league:

NPSL Week in Review

Weekend scores from around the league:

  • Tampa Marauders bounced back from a 2 – 4 loss to Warner University by defeating the University of Tampa 2 – 1.
  • Junior Lone Star FC played to a thrilling 3 – 3 draw against Debamu FC in a pre-season friendly match that saw two stoppage time goals.
  • Real San Jose stays atop the Northern Flight of the West Region with a 2 – 2 draw against Sonoma County Sol. Both teams remain undefeated, and Sonoma has a game in hand.
  • Orange County Pateadores continues to impress with a 2 – 0 victory over the San Diego Flash in what is being billed as game one of the Freeway Series. Pateadores is currently tied for 1st with FC Hasental in the Southern Flight of the West Region.
  • Reports are in and the word on the street is that Miami United has managed to sign a number of ex-professionals to their squad. Miami United reportedly dispatched the Cape Coral Hurricanes by a final score of 6 – 0 in the first leg of the Everglades Cup.
  • Santa Clarita Storm outgunned the Las Vegas Stallions 5 – 4 in a goal fest. Coming off of an embarrassing double digit loss, Las Vegas put in a respectable showing despite another loss.
  • San Francisco Stompers 0 – 4 CD Aguiluchos USA: Aguiluchos crammed all four goals into the first half of play to notch their first win of the season against San Francisco. San Francisco will need to make some adjustments in order to avoid finishing bottom of the table for another season.
  • FC Hasental continued an undefeated streak started during Open Cup qualifying with a 5 – 4 win over San Diego Boca FC. The win keeps FC Hasental tied for first with OC Pateadores in the Southern Flight of the West Region, though Hasental currently holds the tie-breaker on goal differential.

Other news/updates:

  • Electric City FC add home match vs. Junior Lone Star FC for summer program
  • The NPSL has renamed its ‘divisions’ as ‘flights’. This is a much welcomed change that will hopefully clarify some of the past confusion over what constitutes regions/divisions/conferences. Thus a team will play in a flight which is in turn a part of a region (for example, the Sunshine Flight is a part of the South Region).
  • Armando Gaitan of FC Hasental has received the NPSL Player of the Week award for the week ending April 7th.

NPSL West Region – Golden Gate Conference Preview

The Northern Division (nicknamed the Golden Gate Conference) of the NPSL West Region started regular season play this weekend after several weeks of US Open Cup Qualifying. While making pre and early season predictions is often nothing better than rolling dice, here is a brief look at each club and where we might expect them to finish based on last years results and the first few matches played this year.

1. Sonoma County Sol: 2012 PR = 1.605, 2013 PR (to date) = 1.221

Having finished on *top (actually second behind Bay Area Ambassadors – see note below) of the division last season with an outstanding +12 goal differential over 6 games gives the Sol the nod for my division pre-season #1. So far the Sol have started out OK, avenging a 1-5 Open Cup qualifying loss to Sacramento with a 4-1 victory to open the regular season this weekend. Right now the gap between the top two in the division is too close to call, leaning in favor of the Sol based on last seasons merits. But based on the early season results so far Sonoma had better find some consistency if they want to take home the division title.

2. Sacramento Gold: 2012 PR = .978, 2013 PR (to date) = 1.437

With the exception of the loss to Sonoma County, Sacramento has started the season strong. Unfortunately, if they want to challenge Sonoma for the title they will have to find a way to repeat their Open Cup heroics during the regular season. This Sacramento team is much improved over last season and they have pieces in place to challenge Sonoma for the title. If Sacramento can forget the last game and get back to pre-season form I wouldn’t hesitate to give them the #1 ranking.

3. Real San Jose: 2012 PR = .866, 2013 PR (to date) = 1.0o0

Real San Jose finished 2012 nipping at the heals of Sacramento. They finished with 1 less loss than the Gold but also managed only 1 win (to Sacramento’s 2). The three draws showed they are a scrappy team, but the power rankings punish draws as much as reward them. Aside from a 0-2 Open Cup qualifying loss to Sacramento, San Jose claimed a 2-0 victory over league newcomers CD Aguiluchos USA. Real San Jose seems to have returned a scrappy team this season, and if they can find a few more goals and turn a couple draws into victories, I think they could compete for the division title.

4. San Francisco Stompers: 2012 PR = .483, 2013 PR (to date) = .285

San Francisco finished *bottom of the division table (actually 5th of out 6 teams, see note below) last season mostly due to the fact that they only managed to score 3 times over the course of the season while allowing 17 goals over the same 6 game span. The good news is that they scored 2 goals in their only match so far this season. The bad news is that the defense allowed 5 in that same match. The Stompers will need to find a way to plug the holes on defense if they want to have any chance of finishing in the top 3.

5. CD Aguiluchos USA: 2012 PR = N/A, 2013 PR (to date) = 0.001

CD Aguiluchos has made a bit of noise leading up to the start of the season for an experiment that is reminiscent of MLS club Chivas USA. It may be too early to fairly place them at the bottom of the table, but they have been held scoreless in two matches so far this season. Until we see something more from them, I have to place Aguiluchos at the bottom.

*NOTE: It should be noted that both the North Coast Tsunami and the Bay Area Ambassadors participated in the division for the 2012 season and finished 6th and 1st respectively. However because both teams are not fielding an NPSL team for the 2013 season I have ignored them in the above analysis.