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).
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:
- Mark Lavery of the Georgia Revolution signed a professional contract with the Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL.
- Daniel Casey has a new NPSL Weekly column at Soccer Newsday.
- Jersey City Eagles have relocated and re-branded as the Clarkstown SC Eagles. Click the link for the full story published last week.
The Shenandoah Thunder have announced intentions to apply for membership to the National Premier Soccer League for the 2014 season. The Thunder have announced three tryout dates in April and will enter a team in the Mason Dixon Soccer League for the 2013 season. They will look to schedule friendlies against regional NPSL clubs to round out their pilot season.
Should the Thunder be granted NPSL membership it seems most likely that they would be placed in the Mid Atlantic Division of the Southern Region with other Virginia based clubs Chesterfield United, RVA Football Club, and Federal City FC.
We’re well into the NPSL off-season, and for many teams the 2013 campaign is starting to take shape. The big news for Greater Binghamton FC is that they are part of a conference realignment that looks to send them into one of the Northeast Conference. The Midwest Great Lakes Conference added newcomers Zanesville Athletic and Sparta FC and is rumored to have pushed Binghamton into the Northeast Atlantic Conference where they will join 7 clubs scattered throughout NYC, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
If this is in fact their conference destination, logistically it presents little benefit over last seasons situation in the Great Lakes conference AND takes away from their only in state rivalry with FC Buffalo. I was hoping to see them move into the Northeast Keystone Conference with both FC Sonic and the Pocono Snow within reasonable driving distances. Add to that the fact that most of the other Keystone teams are in and around the Philadelphia/NJ metro, and some significant travel dollars could be saved.
Of course, this is all speculation until the league or club comes out with an official statement - and even then, I’m not sure I’ll trust it until the first game has been played. After all, the NPSL site is not known for its accuracy - check this page out and notice the comment about Chesterfield United joining the leagues “South Atlantic Conference”. Now go to this page and notice the glaring absence of a “South Atlantic Conference”.
Anyone have any thoughts on the proposed conference realignments for next season?