When I saw a match report on the NPSL website for a match that had yet to be played I thought it was some kind of joke. Curious about it, I tweeted at Las Vegas and Orange County. Orange County responded, “Las Vegas objected to a time change in today’s game… and made us forfeit.”
— OCPateadores (@OCPateadores) May 4, 2023
This is unfortunate on so many levels. Not only was OC Pateadores undefeated up until the forfeit, Las Vegas had yet to win a match. At the end of the season, Pateadores will most likely still qualify for the playoffs and Las Vegas most likely won’t. I understand that last minute time changes aren’t fair and that’s the reason why there are forfeit provisions. But beyond the immediate win/loss ramifications, these kinds of issues undermine the legitimacy of the league. NPSL desperately wants to be viewed as an equal to the PDL. But as long as we have teams that play with 10 men because of eligibility issues, scheduling issues forcing forfeits, and clubs that serve beer instead of water to players (let alone minors), the image of the league will suffer. At this point many of the ‘standards’ criticisms leveled at the league are real. Not all clubs have these problems, probably not even most. But the fact that there ARE such problems betrays the leagues best intentions to establish minimum standards.
Today’s forfeit aside, there are still clubs that have yet to finalize schedules despite most flights kicking off next weekend. The Rhode Island Reds website still shows Lowell FC on the schedule, who is known to be waiting until at least 2014 to compete. (To be fair, I have since learned that Rhode Island has kept this match on the schedule as a friendly).
As a member owned league, club owners and representatives need to band together and establish some real league standards. Not just because it will make scheduling easier and eliminate forfeits, but because if they want the league to grow and their clubs to prosper they need to raise the level of professionalism across the board. Having twenty or thirty success stories would be far better than four or five flagship clubs. I believe the potential is there, and I think there is a movement among many of the ownership groups to improve. I hope they can navigate the democratic process and convince the rest quickly enough that change really is necessary - before we end up with two or three more league splits.