National Premier Soccer League

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National Premier Soccer League
Npsllogo.png
Country United States
Confederation CONCACAF
US Soccer
PRFF
Founded 2003
Divisions 11
Number of teams 78 (2014)[1]
Levels on pyramid 4
Promotion to None
Relegation to None
Domestic cup(s) Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
CFU Club Championship
Current champions RVA Football Club
(2013)
Most championships Arizona Sahuaros
Detroit Arsenal
FC Sonic
Jacksonville United
Pennsylvania Stoners
RVA Football Club
Sacramento Gold
Sacramento Knights
Sonoma County Sol
Southern California Fusion
Utah Salt Ratz
(1 title each)
Website NPSL website
2014 NPSL season

The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) is an American soccer league commonly recognized as being a fourth tier league.[2] It is the successor of the Men's Professional Soccer League, a regional league originally based out of the Western United States, which has now expanded nationwide to encompass teams from 29 states.

Although the league is officially affiliated to the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA), and qualifies for the U.S. Open Cup through USASA channels, the league is generally considered to be at the fourth tier of competition in the United States soccer pyramid, behind Major League Soccer (MLS), the North American Soccer League (NASL) and the United Soccer Leagues Professional Division (USL Pro), and roughly equal with the USL Premier Development League (PDL).[2]

The league's motto is "A National League with a Regional Focus". Some of the clubs are former United Soccer Leagues (USL) clubs.

Competition format[edit]

The National Premier Soccer League's is divided into four separate Regions (Northeast, South, Midwest and West). Each Region contains between three or four conferences with varying number of teams per conference. The four regions generally correspond to the four USASA regions, Northeast (Region I), Midwest (Region II), South (Region III) and West (Region IV) with the exception of teams in New York Western (one team), Pennsylvania West (two teams) and Missouri (only one team). The regular season runs from May to July with the exception of the West Region that has historically started in late March or early April.[3] Most conferences play between ten and twelve games against teams within the conference, though since 2009 some conferences have played as few as eight games and as many as fourteen games. When possible, each conference follows a double round robin format allowing for a balanced schedule. Larger conferences have had unbalanced schedules though given the constraints around scheduling games within the short window. The schedule is designed to allow college students to compete during their summer break. For the playoffs, the formats vary by region and conference with the four region champions facing each other in the National Semifinals and Championship games.

National Premier Soccer League is located in USA
Locations of NPSL clubs for 2014. Blue = Northeast Region clubs, Yellow = South Region clubs, Green = Midwest Region clubs, Red = West Region clubs
v · d · e

The NPSL currently has eight automatic berths in the U.S. Open Cup where they gain eligibility towards the CONCACAF Champions League. The exact qualification format has varied over the years due to some teams passing on their opportunity to enter the tournament because of timing issues around when the tournament begins as well as not being able to afford the risk associated with having to potentially absorb travel costs. In recent years the West Region has had a preseason qualifying tournament to determine their qualifying spot(s).To date 20 different NPSL clubs have qualified for the U.S. Open Cup but the farthest any have proceeded is to the second round. With the addition of Puerto Rico FC in 2014, they become eligible for the CFU Club Championship which provides an opportunity to compete in the CONCACAF Champions League as well.

History[edit]

The National Premier Soccer League began in 2003 as the Men's Professional Soccer League (MPSL) initially as an offshoot of the Women's Premier Soccer League, and marked the first instance of a women's soccer league spawning a men's league. The league's first two champions were the Arizona Sahuaros, who had defected to the MPSL from the USL D-3 Pro League, and the Utah Salt Ratz.

The league expanded into the Midwest in 2005 with the addition of several new teams and a new conference, and changed its name to National Premier Soccer League to reflect its new national footprint; a team from the expansion conference – Detroit Arsenal – won the league in its first year after its eastward expansion. The NPSL expanded further in 2007 with the addition of a new Northeast Conference and five new teams from the eastern United States. The first team from the East to win the national NPSL title was the Pennsylvania Stoners in 2008. The league has since continued to expand, adding more teams throughout the entirety of the country.

Since its inception the league has managed to place at least one team actively playing under its banner into U.S. Open Cup competition. Though the showing of the NPSL in US Open Cup play was typically only one or two teams in its first six years, the 2009 and 2010 cups have seen four and three, respectively, NPSL teams in each tournament. The recent success of the NPSL in USASA qualifying has encouraged a movement by which the league could have automatic berths in the final tournament.[4] The furthest a team from the NPSL has reached in the US Open Cup during the professional era (1997 and onward after the entry of MLS teams) has been the third round. However, the Brooklyn Italians have won the US Open Cup outright before the existence of either MLS or the NPSL.

As the league has continued to grow it has become a place for professional teams to place reserve or development squads. Though no formal agreement exists with other leagues in the U.S., the league is now home to five squads representing MLS or NASL teams: D.C. United U-23 which is operated by Federal City FC, New York Red Bulls NPSL, Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves, Minnesota United FC Reserves and Carolina RailHawks U-23's.

In 2014, the NPSL announced it would expand outside of the continental United States for the first time by adding Puerto Rico FC. The club will also compete in the CFU Club Championship in their inaugural season.[5]

Status[edit]

Officially the USSF does not recognize formal levels of the soccer pyramid below the professional 3rd Division. The USSF does not officially recognize distinctions between amateur soccer leagues in the United States. However, the USASA sanctions affiliated, but separately run, national leagues that are recognized in practical terms as playing at a higher level than the USASA state association leagues; for example, they receive automatic berths to the US Open Cup.[2]

The USL Premier Development League takes place during the summer months, and the player pool is drawn mainly from NCAA college soccer players seeking to continue playing high level soccer during their summer break, while still maintaining their college eligibility. The National Premier Soccer League is similar to the USL Premier Development League and also attracts top amateur talent from around the United States. NPSL does not have any age limits or restrictions, thus incorporating both college players and former professional players alike. The NPSL is sometimes referred to as a Semi-Professional league since some keeps opt to pay small salaries to players that are willing to forego their amateur status. Officially though, the USSF only recognizes a league as either Professional or Amateur.[citation needed]

Organization[edit]

The NPSL is organized in a mostly decentralized structure and is managed as a team-run league.[6] Each year the member clubs help elect a Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary and an 8 member Board of Directors. Each team is individually owned and operated, and is responsible for maintaining league minimum standards. New teams seeking membership into the NPSL are subject to approval from an executive committee of existing team owners. Member clubs have the right to make localized decisions for their respective markets, conferences and regions based on what they believe is best for their particular region.[7]

The current Chairman is Joe Barone of the Brooklyn Italians who was elected in late 2013 after previously serving as Treasurer. Michael Hitchcock [8] of Playbook Management Inc was named the Commissioner of the NPSL in 2013. With Hitchcock joining the league, he plans to expand the reach of the league and has discussed the potential of introducing promotion and relegation in the future. Hitchcock was previously an executive with several MLS clubs. Each conference is managed by the individual member clubs and elect a conference commission each year.

During competitions, the home club is responsible for paying fees for the officiating staff and providing basic accommodations for the visiting side including, drinks and ensuring a medical training is on duty. The costs to join the league as of 2013 are report to be a $10,000 one-time franchise fee and a $3,500 annual league fee.[9] Those fees have double since 2007 when the franchise fee was only $5,000 with the annual league fee at only $1,800.[10] The low entry fee compared to the PDL's of $75,000[11] has made the league an attractive alternative to teams looking to compete at the highest level of amateur play.

The league requires that all teams play in stadiums with at least 500 seats, a scoreboard, locker rooms with showers for both teams and officials. The home team is also responsible for providing water and food for the visiting team, ensuring there is a trainer or doctor on-site for the match and paying the referees fees at the end of each game ($275).[12]

Sponsorship and partnerships[edit]

Mitre Sports International will provide the official ball for the NPSL starting in 2014, the sponsorship agreement will last through the 2016 season.[12][13] The league has also announced several partnerships for the 2014 season, Global Scarves, Wecando and Pabian Law. Global Scarves and the NPSL plan on strategically partnering to not only outfit every NPSL team with soccer scarves branded to the specific team, but plan on working together to increase and elevate the status of both entities to a higher level. Global Scarves will begin providing custom soccer scarves throughout the league, and will work with the NPSL on various events and contests to increase awareness and fervor throughout the 2014 NPSL season. Wecando Print is a full-service branding company that specializes in printing, promotional products, embroidery, screen printing, banners, fulfillment services, and company stores. Pabian Law specific in law and immigration services and has experience with signing international soccer players.[14]

Teams[edit]

Future teams[edit]

Expansion[edit]

Since its founding members in 2003, the league has grown to an expected 70+ teams for 2014.

Year # of Teams Teams Added Teams Departed
2003 6 0 0
2004 10 5 1
2005 13 7 4
2006 18 5 0
2007 22 12 8
2008 24 10 8
2009 27 10 7
2010 31 12 8
2011 37 13 7
2012 45+2* 14+2* 5
2013 57 17 5+2*
2014 78 32 11

* - FC New Orleans and Texas South Devils were provisional members in 2012 that never became full members

Rivalry Cups[edit]

Many NPSL teams have rivalries given the close geography of the teams throughout the league. The most notable rivalry is the Rust Belt Derby contested between Detroit City FC, AFC Cleveland and FC Buffalo. The name refers to the economic decline, population loss and urban decay due to the shrinking of the once powerful industrial sector of these cities that each are part of the broader Rust Belt.[citation needed] Other rivalries include the San Diego Flash and San Diego iCon FC which are crosstown rivals and until the 2013 sale and rebranding of iCon FC from Boca FC the ownership groups of the two clubs were previously partners in the original San Diego Flash club of the A-League that competed from 1998 to 2001.[citation needed]

Derby Name Most Wins Titles Other Club(s) Titles Recent winner Notes
Rust Belt Derby Detroit City FC
AFC Cleveland
1 (2013)
1 (2012)
FC Buffalo 0 Detroit City F.C
San Diego Derby San Diego Flash 3 (2011-2013) San Diego Boca FC 0 San Diego Flash Former Rivalry

Records and Champions[edit]

Year Winner Runner-up
2003 Arizona Arizona Sahuaros Utah Utah Salt Ratz
2004 Utah Utah Salt Ratz Arizona Arizona Sahuaros
2005 Michigan Detroit Arsenal CaliforniaSonoma County Sol
2006 California Sacramento Knights Wisconsin Princeton 56ers
2007 California Southern California Fusion New York Queen City FC
2008 Pennsylvania Pennsylvania Stoners Minnesota St. Paul Twin Stars
2009 California Sonoma County Sol Pennsylvania Erie Admirals SC
2010 California Sacramento Gold Tennessee Chattanooga FC
2011 Florida Jacksonville United California Hollywood United Hitmen
2012 Pennsylvania FC Sonic Tennessee Chattanooga FC
2013 Virginia RVA Football Club California Sonoma County Sol

Notable players with NPSL experience[edit]

Name Nationality Former NPSL Club From Notable Experience
Paulo Mendes  Brazil Rhode Island Reds FC 2012-13 New York Cosmos
Pedro Mendes  Brazil Rhode Island Reds FC 2012 Atlanta Silverbacks, Indy Eleven
Jules Alex Nyom  Cameroon Minnesota Twin Stars 2010 RoPS
Francis Mbome  Equatorial Guinea Minnesota Twin Stars 2010 Equatorial Guinea
Ansu Toure  Liberia Minnesota Twin Stars 2006 Minnesota Thunder, Atlanta Silverbacks, Miami FC, Vancouver Whitecaps, FC Locarno, FC Vestsjælland, Liberia, Persiba Balikpapan
Borfor Carr  Liberia Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves 2011 Atlanta Silverbacks
Geoffrey Myers  Liberia Minnesota Twin Stars 2008 Minnesota Thunder
Moussa Toure  Liberia Minnesota Twin Stars 2008 Atlanta Silverbacks
Richard Kamara  Liberia Minnesota Twin Stars 2011 Liberia
Chris Rodd  Norway Sonoma County Sol 2013 New York Cosmos
Chris Wondolowski  United States Chico Rooks 2004 San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo, USMNT
Chris Klute  United States Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves 2011-12 Atlanta Silverbacks, Colorado Rapids, USMNT
Eric Kronberg  United States Sonoma County Sol 2004-05 Sporting Kansas City
Kofi Opare  United States Detroit City FC 2012 LA Galaxy

Directors, Officers and Management team[edit]

Directors:

Current Regional Board Members:

Management Team:

  • Michael Hitchcock - Commissioner
  • Gary Moody - Public & Media Relations Consultant
  • J.P. Terrasi - Marketing & Website Coordinator
  • Dr. Joseph Machnik - Director of Officials[17]

Conference Commissioners:

  • Kabba Joof - Head Coach, Rhode Island Reds FC - Northeast Region - North Atlantic Conference (2013-)[18]
  • - Northeast Region - Keystone Conference
  • - Northeast Region - Mid-Atlantic Conference
  • - South Region - South Atlantic Conference
  • J.P. Terrasi - Owner & GM, Cape Coral Hurricanes - South Region - Sunshine Conference (2013-)
  • - South Region - Southeast Conference
  • - South Region - South Central Conference
  • - Midwest Region - Great Lakes Conference
  • Cristian Brei - Madison 56ers - Midwest Region - Central Conference (2013-)
  • - West Region - Southwest Conference
  • William Forte - San Francisco Stompers FC - West Region - Golden Gate Conference
  • Melissa Brandao - SO Samba FC - West Region - Northwest Conference (2013-)[19]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]