NPSL To Explore Promotion/Relegation

In a Q&A released on the National Premier Soccer League’s website today, Commissioner Michael Hitchcock announces that he and the board of directors will be spending time in the offseason exploring the possibility of introducing promotion and relegation into the NPSL. Acknowledging that “fans would love to see a system of promotion & relegation in the U.S…. it would be great if the NPSL could be the league to bring promotion/relegation to the U.S.” Hitchcock states that he, “has a number of ideas” and that “we’re going to do a lot of work on this to see what makes sense and when.” While these comments indicate that the idea is in the exploratory stages, Hitchcock does mention that he will be presenting some ideas on the subject to the Board of Directors at the annual retreat in August.

Interestingly, I mentioned this very idea in a previous story I wrote exploring the idea of expanding the NPSL league structure to accommodate reserve teams and/or a second division. It should be noted that if the NPSL were to introduce promotion/relegation, it is likely to only extend to any division introduced under the NPSL ‘umbrella’. And while it is possible that the NPSL could set up an agreement with another league (several have suggested the NASL as an option) this seems highly unlikely due to the financial and economic concerns current higher league franchise owners would face if sent down.

Promotion/relegation could be a great introduction into the NPSL and is a change that is sure to draw significant support from fans of the game. As I stated previously, and intentionally avoiding specifics, the NPSL needs to “continue to find innovative ways to professionalize their product and set themselves apart.” The introduction of promotion/relegation does just that.


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 6/23/13

With a weekend of matches full of playoff implications, here is your weekend in review for 6/23/13.

Northeast Region:

The New York Red Bulls and Brooklyn Italians played to a scoreless draw that leaves the Red Bulls with a commanding lead atop the Atlantic Flight’s table. The Red Bulls defense have yet to allow a goal all season. Meanwhile, New York Athletic Club put a 12-2 drubbing on the Seacoast United Mariners as they look to overtake the Italians for 2nd place and the last playoff slot in the Flight. NYRB have 16 points through 6 games, Brooklyn is at 11, and NYAC holds 7 points and carries a game in hand. The rest of the flight is sitting on 4 points or less.

In Keystone Flight action Greater Binghamton allows its first home goal of the season, but an own goal thanks to the Pocono Snow is enough to secure the Binghamton win 2-1 at home and keep them on top of the table. Clarkstown Eagles SC soundly defeated Hershey FC 6-0 but failed to move into second place due to a Junior Lone Star 4-1 win over the Reading Revolution that moves the Stars (16 points) to within 1 point of Binghamton (17 points - though Lone Star have played one more match than the rest of their flight) and a LVU Sonic 6-2 thrashing of the Morris County Colonials which puts Sonic in third place with 15 points.

South Region:

RVA Football club defeated Chesterfield United to all but secure first place in the Mid-Atlantic flight while Myrtle Beach thrashed last place CASL Elite 5-1 to stay in 2nd place and move within one point of RVA (though RVA holds two games in hand).

New Orleans Jesters knocked off Rocket City United 2-1 and Knoxville Force 3-1 with two quality victories that really only serve to secure a respectable mid-table finish to the South East Flight season. Chattanooga FC played to a scoreless draw with the Gulf Coast Texans and with the draw is able to maintain first place by a point. The winner of the Flight will secure the lone flight playoff spot. Chattanooga leads with 17 points, Gulf Coast trails with 16 points, and Rocket City is still in contention with 13 points.

Jacksonville United all but inked their status on top of the Sunshine Flight with a dominating 4-0 win over Miami United. Tampa Bay also won on the weekend with a narrow 1-0 victory over the struggling Cape Coral Hurricanes. Jacksonville leads with 14 points while Tampa Bay remains in contention with 8 points and 2 games in hand.

The Tulsa Athletics played out a tense 2-2 draw with the visiting Liverpool Warriors and continue to sit at the top of the South Central table. Also in South Central play the Houston Regals notched their first win of the season convincingly defeating cross town rivals Houston Hurricanes. The victory comes just days after Regals head coached announced he was replacing most of the first team with members of the reserve team in a bid to improve the performance of the team. The move comes too little too late to make a difference for postseason aspirations, but adding a couple wins will be a great way to start building for next season.

Midwest Region:

Around the Great Lakes Flight, FC Buffalo came away with split results in a trip to the greater Detroit metro winning 4-0 Friday at FC Sparta Michigan and then losing by the same scoreline to NPSL #1 ranked club Detroit City. Erie faced Zanesville and Cleveland over the weekend, winning 3-1 over the Athletics and drawing 1-1 with the Royals. Cleveland’s woes continued with a 3-0 loss earlier in the weekend at the hands of rivals Detroit City.

In the Central Flight, the Minnesota Twin Stars woes continued as the dropped consecutive 5-2 decisions to the Milwaukee Bavarians and Madison 56er’s. Fellow cellar dwellers Eau Claire Aris fared slightly better picking up a point against the 56er’s first first time ever (final score was 1-1) before losing 2-1 to the Bavarians. Quad City continues to head the flight, but Madison and Milwaukee are still in the playoff hunt if the can turn in some late season results.

West Region:

San Francisco extended their winless streak another match with a 0-2 loss to fellow Golden Gate Flight club Aguiluchos USA. Sonoma County solidified their place on top of the flight with a heavily contested 2-1 victory over Real San Jose.

The already exciting playoff race added another twist with the announcement that Orange County Pateadores would be forfeiting their remaining matches due to lack of a home venue. This week, the announcement benefited Santa Clarita who picked up the 3-0 default victory to leapfrog the San Diego Flash into second place. The Flash were disappointed with a 2-2 draw in a local derby against San Diego Boca. Las Vegas gave Hasental a first half scare only to see the Ventura County side storm back for a 5-1 victory.

OC Pateadores Forced to Forfeit Remaining Matches

In an unfortunate turn of circumstances Orange County Pateadores will be forced to forfeit their last three games of the season, and with them any hope of a playoff spot. The forfeits are being forced due to lack of a home field venue - a minimum club requirement according to NPSL standards.

At the start of the 2013 season Orange County partnered with existing youth club Pateadores in a move that was supposed to provide the NPSL side with both logistical support and an increased player pool; and based on early season results it looked to be a good move. As the season went on however, securing playing grounds became an issue and forced a forfeit to Las Vegas which was the first Orange County loss of the season. Orange County General Manager Albert Ochoa commented, “We had a fantastic start in the pitch, but since the beginning ran into the field issues, having fields that limited the ability to charge for the home games, and run a solid game-day operation. This condition took a terrible toll in our ability to generate revenue from ticket sales, and what was equally bad, was the fact that we lost our first game by default due to the lack of a home field.”

Ochoa went on to explain, “After several weeks, the issue was not resolved leaving us with last minute adjustments every week and no guarantee that we would be able to obtain a field to meet minimum league requirements.  Thus we have opted to forfeit the last games of the season. I have contacted the League Administration and discussed the situation, including playing the remaining games as visitors. After reviewing all our options, we reached a decision to forfeit the games, start working in the re branding of the team, work independently in getting an official field and prepare for the 2014 season. This course of action should not affect the other teams in the division. That was something that was taken very seriously by all, out of respect for the league and the other competing teams.”

Snow End Binghamton Home Shutout Streak

The Pocono Snow became the first team to score on Greater Binghamton FC at home in the 2013 season, but the lone goal wasn’t enough to secure points. Thanks to another strong defensive performance and a bit of luck from a Pocono own goal, Binghamton secured the victory and three points to stay atop the Keystone Flight table. Binghamton will face Hershey FC next Saturday. Hershey is the only team to to beat Binghamton this season, and they are coming off a stunning 6-0 loss to the Clarkstown SC Eagles in a match that saw two Hershey players dismissed with red cards.

NPSL Media Top 20

Starting this week a panel comprised of media members from across the country vote on the NPSL Top 20. Here are the rankings as of 6/22.

1. Detroit City FC
2. Tulsa Athletics
3. Quad City Eagles
4. Sonoma County Sol
5. New York Red Bulls
6. FC Hasental
7. Chattanooga FC
8. FC Buffalo
9. RVA Football Club
10. Sacramento Gold
11. Jacksonville United FC
12. Gulf Coast Texans
13. Greater Binghamton Futbol Club
14. San Diego Flash
15. Rocket City United
16. Hershey FC
17. Futbol Club Santa Clarita
18. Brooklyn Italians
19. Milwaukee Bavarians
20. Liverpool Warriors

NPSL Playoff Picture

The league has announced the playoff format - or rather formats - for the 2013 postseason. Because the number of teams in each flight and region varies, coming up with a single fair structure for playoff qualification is difficult. For now it seems that it was left up to the members of each region to determine what would work best for them. Here’s how the playoff picture would look if the season ended tonight. Note: does not include results from 6/21/13 matches.

South Region:

Format: Final Four at Top Seeded Team. Seeding awarded based on most points per game, assuming top team in each flight gets a spot in the final four.

#1 Tulsa Athletics  (2.75 ppg) vs. #4 Jacksonville United (2.2 ppg)

#2 RVA Football Club (2.5 ppg) vs. #2 Chattanooga FC (2.285 ppg)

Northeast Region:

Format: Top sees hosts, seeding is assumed to be based on regular season flight standings.

#1 Keystone Flight hosts #2 Atlantic Flight - Greater Binghamton FC vs. Brooklyn Italians

#1 Atlantic Flight hosts #2 Keystone Flight - New York Red Bulls U23′s vs. Hershey FC

Midwest Region:

Format: Hybrid of Flight Final Four then Region Championship Game

Great Lakes Flight Final Four at Top Seed

  1. Detroit City FC (HOST)
  2. FC Buffalo
  3. Erie Admirals
  4. FC Sparta Michigan

Central Flight Regular Season Champion  Hosts Great Lakes Flight Champion in Region Final

Quad City FC vs. Great Lakes Flight Playoff Champion

West Region: 

Format:  Top Seed hosts, seeding awarded based on most points per game.

#1 Southern Flight hosts #2 Golden Gate Flight - FC Hasental vs. Sacramento Gold

#1 Golden Gate Flight hosts #2 Southern Flight - Sonoma County Sol vs. San Diego Flash (I’ve awarded the Flash the playoff spot over FC Santa Clarita based on goal differential).

Torch Earn Draw With Binghamton

Ryan vs GBFCPerkasie, PA (6/16/13) Jamison Parker

On Sunday June 16th the BuxMont Torch earned a 2-2 draw at home against National Premier Soccer League opponent Greater Binghamton F.C. (GBFC). A goal and an assist from Emmy Egbosimbah helped the Torch earn a tie against the second place team in the Keystone Conference.

The Father’s Day match opened with a spark of activity from Torch striker Sachem Wilson. Binghamton played two back passes from the kickoff and Wilson was able to intercept the second before dribbling deep into the 18 yard box and firing a shot that was saved by GBFC’s Jason Stenta. Six minutes later, GBFC would respond with a goal by Bozidar Jelovac who capitalized on a Torch defensive turnover before slotting home the first goal of the game. Jelovac would net his second of the match in the 28th minute after the referee called a foul on the Torch defense inside their own penalty area and gave GBFC a penalty kick. Faced with an early 2 goal deficit, Torch head coach Daniel Byrd made a substitution and brought on Emmy Egbosimbah in the 29th minute. The substitution yielded almost immediate dividends as Egbosimbah applied constant pressure to the GBFC back four and scored in the 34th minute off an assist from Austin Petrie.

Coming out of the halftime break, and with a week since their previous NPSL match, the Torch looked fresh, inspired, and committed to earning a good result on their home turf. Halftime substitute Wendell Gabriel was able to level the score at 2-2 with a goal in the 46th minute. The persistent pressure applied by Egbosimbah forced another GBFC turnover and allowed him to make a cross to Gabriel who corralled the ball on the left side of the Binghamton penalty area before unleashing a venomous right footed strike underneath the diving Stenta. The goal would be the last of a lively second half which saw both teams hold strong in their defensive halves of the field and attempt to work passing sequences through the midfield. Torch defenders Josh Kremers, Greg Terrell, Doug Cordi, and Kevin Skinker looked cohesive and competent in dealing with the GBFC offensive threats, while BuxMont keeper Jeremy Lee made five saves on the evening and was a strong vocal presence helping to coordinate defending efforts in front of him.

The Torch looked to build off of this result as they travel to face the Morris County Colonials on Wednesday June 19th. Binghamton gets back into action on Saturday June 22nd as they host the Pocono Snow.

Jamison Parker is the Media Relations Associate for the BuxMont Torch. Follow the Torch @BuxMontTorch or on facebook


Binghamton Down Pocono in 2nd Half Thriller

After a scoreless first half, the Pocono Snow jumped out to a 2 goal lead with goals in the 49th and 52nd. Binghamton’s Budnjo Armin quickly answered three minutes later in the 55th to bring the score within 1. Then five minutes later Bo Jelovac converted a penalty for the equalizer and then the go ahead goal just a minute later off of an assist from Patrick Thompson. Jelovac completed the hat trick with an insurance goal six minutes before the end of regulation. The victory, coupled with LVU Sonic’s 5-1 thrashing of Hershey puts Binghamton in a tie for first in the Keystone Flight (though Hershey leads head-t0-head series 1-0).

Binghamton was also forced to finish a match down a man for the third time this season due to Ermin Corbin picking up two yellow cards during the course of the match.

United FC Open WPSL Season

United FC Binghamton opened their WPSL season on May 29th with a 1-1 draw at home against new expansion club Tri-City Celtics.

They returned to action June 1st, but fell at home 2-1 to expansion side Empire Revs WNY.

United play again June 8th at the Greater Binghamton Sports Complex where they will host FC Westchester at 3PM. United FC matches are free to attend.