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

OC Forfeits and Playoff Implications

With the Orange County Pateadores announcement that they would be forced to forfeit the last three matches of the season, we explore the impact this has on playoff qualifications for the West Region’s Southern Flight.

The clear winner is FC Hasental who will get a free three points – enough to almost assuredly hand them first place in the Southern Division. Orange County had kept Hasental from receiving full points in both previous matchups this season, which both ended in draws. If Orange County had managed another draw or dealt Hasental a defeat, this would have greatly aided their own title hopes as well as Santa Clarita’s.

Incidentally, Santa Clarita also pick three points from Orange County – whom they lost to twice earlier in the season. Santa Clarita currently trails Hasental by 4 points, and even though the three points are a boost, the fact that Hasental will get three free voids this contribution to Santa Clarita and in fact makes it impossible for the second place Storm to move into first place – even they manage to knock off Hasental and the San Diego Flash in their remaining two contests.

The real loser is the San Diego Flash who unlike Hasental and Santa Clarita defeated Orange County twice out of three meetings. Because of the free points being awarded to first place Hasental and second place Santa Clarita, the Flash now have no hope of taking over the title, even should they win each of their last two matches. Further, heading into last weekend the San Diego and Santa Clarita were tied on points, with the tie-breaker going to San Diego on goal differential. Santa Clarita leaped clear of the Flash with the forfeit victory while San Diego only managed a draw with last place San Diego Boca. The Flash will likely pick up three points this weekend against Las  Vegas, but could find themselves still on the outside of a playoff spot if Santa Clarita defeats Hasental this weekend. This would take the playoff race down to the season finale in which the Flash will host the Storm in San Diego. Should that be the case, Santa Clarita could advance with win or draw while San Diego could only advance with a win.

Essentially, the Orange County forfeits have big playoff implications. Hasental suddenly finds that they have clinched the division (and a playoff spot) while the the Flash find themselves in a situation where they almost have to win each of their remaining matches. Santa Clarita will be disappointed that they don’t have a shot at the title, but have less pressure than San Diego to win both of their remaining matches and still claim the last playoff spot.

And while San Diego Boca will also pick up a forfeit victory, the extra points really only mean that Boca might be able to finish second to last instead of last.

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.

Weekend in Review 4/28

San Diego Boca 0 @  OC Pateadores 8 (Southern Flight): Boca  suffered a humiliating 8-0 route at the hands of Pateadores, and their woes continued off field as it is reported that Yan Skwara has stepped aside as President leaving head coach Karim Ben Mazuk with additional responsibilities. Scoring opened in the twenty-second minute and continued throughout the match as Pateadores narrowed the goal differential previously separating the from FC Hasental at the top of the table. With the victory and the weekend loss by Hasental, OC Pateadores take sole possession of first place in the flight while Boca maintain their place at the bottom along side the Las Vegas Stallions.

Sacramento Gold 3 @ San Francisco Stompers 1 (Norther Flight): For the first forty-two minutes things were going well for the Stomper’s home opener at Boxer Stadium. One minute later Sacramento were awarded a penalty, but San Francisco’s David Varela stepped up and made the save to keep things scoreless entering the break. Entering the second half San Francisco seemed unable to regroup and quickly conceded the first goal in the forty-eighth. The Stompers responded with a goal of their own ten minutes later to level at one all. The game appeared to be headed for a draw when San Francisco’s Liam Whelan was sent off in the ninety-first leaving the Stompers to finish out the match with ten men. Sacramento pressed their man advantage and managed two goals in stoppage time to secure the victory. Much better showing by San Francisco this week, but they have to secure that point with only minutes left in the game. The three points puts Sacramento in good stead heading into a bye week, but they should not feel content at how they got them. For a more in depth match report check out SoccerNation.com.

FC Santa Clarita Storm

FC Hasental 1 @ FC Santa Clarita Storm 2 (Southern Flight): Santa Clarita continues to surprise and this week downs FC Hasental to jump into second place in the Southern Flight only one point behind undefeated OC Pateadores. The Storm notched the first goal in fourteenth minute taking advantage of Hasental’s poor defending. They started the second half the same way and made it 2-0 in the forty-seventh. It looked as though Santa Clarita might shut out the prolific Hasental offense, but a bad challenge in the box awarded Hasental the penalty which was easily converted. This is an important victory for Santa Clarita as they try and gain some separation from the rest of the flight, and it highlights the defensive cracks Hasental has shown – and will need to fix if they want to seriously challenge Pateadores.

San Diego Flash 5 @ Las Vegas Stallions 0 (Southern Flight): The spark finally came in the twenty-seventh minute and the Flash offense exploded with three goals in four minutes to go up 3-0 before halftime. The Flash continued to dominate possession and added two more in the fiftieth and seventy-second minutes to put the game out of reach. The Flash remain in fourth place in the flight, but the win brings them within one point of third place Hasental. Las Vegas continued to struggle and remain at the bottom of the table.

CD Aguiluchos USA 1 @ Sonoma County Sol 3: Aguiluchos scored first in the seventeenth, but conceded a penalty a minute later to hand the equalizer to the Sol. With the momentum from the goal Sonoma County tallied another less than two minutes later to go ahead 2-1. The nail in the coffin came in the sixty-seventh on a through ball to Tyler Hurst who blasted a shot into the roof of the goal. With the win Sonoma County lead the Northern Flight with ten points. Sacramento Gold are second (9) followed by Real San Jose (7), CD Aguiluchos USA (3) and San Francisco Stompers (0).

Miami United 2 @ Cape Coral Hurricanes 2: In Sunshine Flight action Miami United traveled to Cape Coral to take on the Hurricanes for the second leg of the Everglades Cup. The first leg saw Miami score almost at will and take the match 6-0. This time, the Hurricanes were ready and scored just ten minutes in to take the lead 1-0. Cape Coral added a second just eleven minutes later in the twenty-first to go up 2-0. Miami continued to pressure and scored with thirty seconds left in the first half to bring the score to 2-1 heading into halftime. Cape Coral stayed strong most of the second half but again gave up a critical goal in stoppage time to end the match in a 2-2 draw. Miami United leads the 4 leg Everglade Cup series 4 points to Cape Coral’s 1.

Junior Lone Star v Hosa FC: Junior Lone Star FC traveled to North Carolina for a two match series against Hosa FC. Lone Star continued a solid pre-season performance posting a 2-0 win in the first leg and a 2-1 win in the second leg.

OK City FC (PDL) v LFC Warriors: The Liverpool Warriors faced Oklahoma City FC of the PDL in a pre-season tune up match. It was a high scoring affair for both sides and ended in 4-4 draw.

NPSL Match Predictions

Alongside of the weekly ‘Weekend in Review’ column posted on Mondays, I am adding a weekly match prediction column to be posted each Friday ahead of the weekend games.

Sacramento Gold @ San Francisco Stompers (Northern Flight): After three consecutive road losses the Stompers will host the Gold in their home opener at Boxer Stadium. The Stompers have struggled at both ends of the pitch this season, scoring only three goals while allowing twelve. Last weeks two goal performance against Sonoma County Sol was a marked improvement, and if they can repeat it – without the giving up the soft goals – they stand a chance of at least drawing a strong Sacramento side that is coming off of back to back wins against table leader Real San Jose and league newcomer CD Aguiluchos USA. My prediction for this match is a 3-0 win for Sacramento.

FC Hasental @ FC Santa Clarita (Southern Flight): Santa Clarita enters the game with momentum from a quality road victory over the San Diego Flash last week that puts them within one point of table leaders Hasental and OC Pateadores. Hasental and Pateadores played to a grueling 2-2 draw last weekend that saw Pateadores score the go ahead goal late into the second half while playing down man only to have Hasental equalize in stoppage time. Neither has defense has been spectacular over the first three games, though both have been sufficient. I anticipate another high scoreline with FC Hasental winning 4-2.

San Diego Flash @ Las Vegas Stallions (Southern Flight): San Diego will be looking to climb the table with a victory over the winless Stallions, who will be looking to build on the point gleaned from a 0-0 draw against San Diego Boca last week. The Flash have so far under performed this season after losing several key players from last years squad, but I expect they will handle Las Vegas without too many problems. Final score 2-0.

CD Aguiluchos USA @ Sonoma County Sol (Northern Flight): The enigmatic and unpredictable Aguiluchos travel to Sonoma County to take on a strong Sol side. Aguiluchos have struggled to score with all four of their goals coming in the lone victory over San Francisco – a trend I expect to continue against the Sol. Always strong at home, I predict a 3-1 win for the Sol.

San Diego Boca FC @ OC Pateadores: OC Pateadores has made the most of a re-branding effort and undefeated after three regular season matches. Boca are at the other end of the spectrum, winless still after a 0-0 draw with Las Vegas. The Pateadores defense has been stifling, and they nearly emerged with a victory last week over the highly touted FC Hasental offense – playing a portion of the match with only 10 men. San Diego will struggle to penetrate Pateadores defense, I predict a 2-0 win for the Pats.

Miami United @ Cape Coral Hurricanes (Sunshine Flight): This will be the second leg of the Everglades Cup as well as the final match of the pre-season for these two clubs. The first leg saw Miami cruise to a 6-0 shutout over Cape Coral. Miami may very well be the most underestimated side in the NPSL this season as they have quietly assembled a professional squad. I anticipate this leg will yield a similar result, as Cape Coral have struggled to score all against  NPSL competition having also been defeated by a 2-0 margin by the Tampa Marauders on two occasions this pre-season. Prediction: 5-0 in favor of Miami United.

Junior Lone Star FC @ Hosa FC (Non-league pre-season friendly): Junior Lone Star continue their full pre-season line up by travelling to North Carolina for a 2 game series against Hosa FC. Lone Star have posted some good results so far this pre-season and will hope to solidify a starting 11 this weekend.

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.

3.25.13 NPSL Weekend Review

Several teams around the league had busy weekends, here is a review from around the league:

US Open Cup Qualifying

  • The San Diego Flash came back from a two goal deficit to defeat local rival San Diego Boca FC 4-2 and advance in Open Cup qualifying. Stephen Prendergast has the full match review over at soccernation.com.
  • FC Hasental overcame an early one goal deficit to claim victory over the Santa Clarita Storm. After an even first half FC Hasental took control in the second and tallied the game winner in the 59th minute. The final score was 2-1. A full match write up is available via Santa Clarita here or here via FC Hasental.
  • FC Hasental will face the San Diego Flash on March 30th for a ‘win and you’re in’ match.

Pre-Season News

  • Greater Binghamton FC traveled to Syracuse, NY and defeated LeMoyne College 2-0 in Binghamton’s first match of the pre-season.

NPSL Alumni Go Pro

  • According to goupper90.com FC Buffalo’s Mike Reidy and Josh Faga have both signed with the Rochester Rhino’s.
  • Former Junior Lone Star forward Anthony Allison is on trial with Swedish 1st division club Umea FC after two seasons in the 2nd division. Check out the full story here.
  • Former Erie Admirals defender Adam Clement signed with the Vancouver Whitecaps.