National Premier Soccer League

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National Premier Soccer League
National Premier Soccer League.png
Founded 2003; 14 years ago (2003)
Country United States
Confederation CONCACAF
US Soccer
Divisions 14 conferences in 4 regions
Number of teams 96
Level on pyramid 4
Domestic cup(s) Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Current champions Elm City Express (1st title)
Most championships AFC Cleveland
Arizona Sahuaros
Detroit Arsenal
Elm City Express
FC Sonic
Jacksonville United
New York Cosmos B
New York Red Bulls U-23
Pennsylvania Stoners
RVA Football Club
Sacramento Gold
Sacramento Knights
Sonoma County Sol
Southern California Fusion
Utah Salt Ratz
(1 title each)
Website NPSL website
2017 NPSL season

The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) is an American soccer league commonly recognized as being a fourth tier league although it has been given no official designation by US Soccer.[1][a] 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 League (USL), and roughly equal with the Premier Development League (PDL).[1] It is the successor of the Men's Premier Soccer League, a regional league originally based out of the Western United States, which has now expanded nationwide to encompass teams from 29 states. The league's motto is "A National League with a Regional Focus". Some of the clubs are former 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 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.[2] 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 due to the constraint of 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 Semi-finals and Championship games.

National Premier Soccer League is located in the US
Locations of NPSL clubs for 2017. Blue = Northeast Region clubs, Yellow = South Region clubs, Green = Midwest Region clubs, Red = West Region clubs

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 due to the timing of the tournament, 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, and in 2014 two clubs, Brooklyn Italians and Chattanooga FC, made it to the third round (having been seeded in the second round), the farthest any NPSL team has advanced.

NPSL logo 2005-2015


The National Premier Soccer League began in 2003 as the Men's Premier 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.[3] 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 home to two squads representing NASL teams: Carolina RailHawks U-23's and New York Cosmos B.[4]


Officially the USSF does not recognize formal levels of the soccer pyramid below the professional 3rd tier. 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.

The 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 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 organized in a mostly decentralized structure and is managed as a team-run league. Each year the member clubs help elect a chairman, treasurer, and secretary and an eight-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. Each conference is managed by the individual member clubs and elect a conference commission each year.

The current chairman is Joe Barone of the Brooklyn Italians who was elected in late 2013 after previously serving as treasurer. Michael Hitchcock of Playbook Management Inc. was hired as commissioner of the NPSL in 2013. With Hitchcock leading the league, plans to expand the reach of the league and discussion of introducing promotion and relegation in the future were made public. Near the conclusion of the 2014 season the NPSL terminated the contract of Hitchcock and PMI.

The costs to join the league as of 2016 are reported to be a one-time $15,000 franchise fee and a $5,250 annual league fee.[5] Those fees have tripled since 2007 when the franchise fee was only $5,000 with the annual league fee at only $1,800.[6] The low entry fee compared to the PDL's of $75,000 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, and 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).

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. 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.



The following expansion clubs have been announced for the 2017 NPSL Season:

Year No. 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 14 5
2013 57 17 5+2*
2014 78 32 11
2015 65 11 24
2016 84 19 0
2017 97 30 17


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 team's shared region, the Rust Belt.[45]

Another intense rivalry existed between the San Diego Flash and San Diego Boca/Force FC, which were crosstown rivals in San Diego. Until the 2013 sale and rebranding of Force 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.[46]

Derby name Most wins Titles Other club(s) Recent winner
Alameda County Derby[47] CD Aguiluchos USA 2 (2016, 2017) East Bay FC Stompers CD Aguiluchos USA
Wine Country Derby[48] N/A (2017) Sonoma County Sol, Napa Valley 1839 FC N/A
Erie County Derby Erie Commodores FC 5 (2009–2014) FC Buffalo Erie Commodores FC
I-20 Cup Birmingham Hammers 1 (2017) Georgia Revolution Birmingham Hammers
I-91 Derby Elm City Express 1 (2017) Hartford City FC Elm City Express
Everglades Cup Miami United 1 (2014) Cape Coral Hurricanes Miami United
Gulf Coast Cup Tampa Marauders 1 (2014) Cape Coral Hurricanes Tampa Marauders
I-40 Cup Little Rock Rangers 1 (2016) Memphis City FC Little Rock Rangers
Louisiana Cup New Orleans Jesters 1 (2016) Shreveport Rafters FC New Orleans Jesters
Red River Cup Tulsa Athletic 1 (2014) Fort Worth Vaqueros, Liverpool Warriors, Oklahoma City FC Tulsa Athletic
Rust Belt Derby Detroit City FC 4 (2013–2016) AFC Cleveland, FC Buffalo Detroit City FC
San Diego Derby San Diego Flash 4 (2011–2013) Albion SC Pros, North County Battalion, San Diego Boca FC San Diego Flash
Trinity River Cup Dallas City FC 1 (2014) Fort Worth Vaqueros Dallas City FC[49]
Volunteer Shield Chattanooga FC 3 (2014–2016) Knoxville Force, Inter Nashville FC, Memphis City FC Chattanooga FC
MS Paint Logo Derby Duluth FC 1 (2017) Minneapolis City SC Duluth FC

Records and champions[edit]

Season Winner Score Runner-up
2003 Arizona Sahuaros 2–1 (a.e.t.) Utah Salt Ratz
2004 Utah Salt Ratz 4–2 Arizona Sahuaros
2005 Detroit Arsenal 1–0 Sonoma County Sol
2006 Sacramento Knights 2–1 Princeton 56ers
2007 Southern California Fusion 1–0 Queen City FC
2008 Pennsylvania Stoners 3–0 St. Paul Twin Stars
2009 Sonoma County Sol 2–1 Erie Admirals SC
2010 Sacramento Gold 3–1 Chattanooga FC
2011 Jacksonville United 3–2 Hollywood United Hitmen
2012 FC Sonic 1–0 Chattanooga FC
2013 RVA Football Club 2–0 Sonoma County Sol
2014 New York Red Bulls U-23 3–1 Chattanooga FC
2015 New York Cosmos B 3–2 (a.e.t.) Chattanooga FC
2016 AFC Cleveland 4–2 Sonoma County Sol
2017 Elm City Express 5–0 Midland-Odessa FC

Notable players with NPSL experience[edit]

Name Nationality Former NPSL club From Notable experience
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, Columbus Crew SC, USMNT
Eric Kronberg  United States Sonoma County Sol 2004–05 Sporting Kansas City
Kofi Opare  United States Detroit City FC 2012 LA Galaxy, D.C. United
Patrick Mullins  United States New Orleans Jesters 2013 New England Revolution, New York City FC
Adam Bedell  United States Detroit City FC 2012–13 Columbus Crew SC, Orlando City SC
Mark Sherrod  United States Chattanooga FC 2012 Houston Dynamo, San Jose Earthquakes
Paulo Ferreira-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
Rafael Diaz  United States Brooklyn Italians 2013 Orlando City SC, New York Red Bulls
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,
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
Kwadwo Poku Ghana Ghana Georgia Revolution 2011-2013 Atlanta Silverbacks, New York City FC, Ghana
Chris Rodd  Norway Sonoma County Sol 2013 New York Cosmos
Mark Lavery  United States Georgia Revolution 2012 Atlanta Silverbacks, Knattspyrnudeild Hamars, Juventud Escazuceña
Darvin Ebanks  United States Georgia Revolution 2015 Harrisburg City Islanders
Russell Cicerone  United States FC Buffalo 2017 Portland Timbers

Directors, officers and management team[edit]


Current Regional board members

Management Team

  • TBA – Commissioner
  • Jef Thiffault – managing director
  • Gary Moody – Media Relations
  • Joe Machnik – Director of Officials

Conference Commissioners

  • Kabba Joof – Head Coach, Rhode Island Reds FCNortheast Region – North Atlantic Conference (2013–present)
  • TBD – Northeast Region – Keystone Conference
  • TBD - Northeast Region – Mid-Atlantic Conference
  • TBD - South Region – South Atlantic Conference
  • TBD – South Region – Sunshine Conference
  • TBD -South Region – South Atlantic Conference
  • TBD – South Region – Southeast-West Conference
  • TBD – South Region – Southeast-East Conference
  • TBD – Midwest Region – Great Lakes-West Conference
  • TBD – Midwest Region – Great Lakes-East Conference
  • Cristian Brei – Madison 56ersMidwest Region – Central Conference (2013–present)
  • TBD – West Region – Southwest Conference
  • William Forte – East Bay FC StompersWest Region – Golden Gate Conference (2013–present)
  • TBD – West Region – Northwest Conference

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The United States soccer league system currently does not have a third-tier league, effectively making the NPSL part of the third-tier, along with the Premier Development League.


  1. ^ a b "The Unruly Soccer Pyramids of America by Mike Firpo". February 10, 2012. Retrieved October 1, 2013. 
  2. ^ "National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved March 2, 2015. 
  3. ^ [1] Archived March 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Cosmos Announce Addition of Reserve Team". New York Cosmos. January 15, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2015. 
  5. ^ "NPSL hires former MLS club exec; hopes to establish Northwest presence". GoalWA. May 15, 2013. Retrieved March 2, 2015. 
  6. ^ "How to start a franchise in the NPSL". Retrieved March 2, 2015. 
  7. ^ a b NPSL (January 9, 2017). "Elm City Express Joins the NPSL". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  8. ^ a b c NPSL (December 15, 2016). "Greater Lowell NPSL FC Launches Rebranding Initiative". Retrieved February 9, 2017. 
  9. ^ a b c d NPSL (January 18, 2017). "West Chester United Soccer Club Joins the NPSL". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  10. ^ "Fredericksburg FC adds NPSL, WPSL programs to youth club's player development structure". SoccerWire. November 25, 2014. 
  11. ^ " Coaches". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Tyler FC Kings Seals The Deal With Brook Hill Guards!". Retrieved February 16, 2017. 
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ a b NPSL (January 23, 2017). "Ozark FC Joins the NPSL". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  15. ^ "tulsaathletic". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  16. ^ a b NPSL (January 25, 2017). "Beaches FC Joins the NPSL". Retrieved February 9, 2017. 
  17. ^ Tsujimoto, Ben (February 13, 2017). "FC Buffalo hires new manager, two assistants". Retrieved February 16, 2017. 
  18. ^ a b NPSL (February 8, 2017). "Syracuse FC Joins the NPSL". Retrieved February 9, 2017. 
  19. ^ "TWO SEMI-PRO SOCCER TEAMS TO CALL BERKLEY HOME". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  20. ^ " Sports: Torrent joins National Premier Soccer League, owner calls it 'best fit'". Retrieved April 12, 2016. 
  21. ^ NPSL (December 15, 2016). "Duluth FC Joins the NPSL". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  22. ^ "Kyle Bakas - Assistant Coach - Men's Soccer". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  23. ^ "CITY MOVE TO THE WEST BANK". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  24. ^ "Med City FC Names First Head Coach". January 11, 2017. Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  25. ^ "Local Sports Notebook: Med City soccer team hires coach". Post-Bulletin. January 14, 2017. Retrieved January 17, 2017. 
  26. ^ "Med City FC Names First Head Coach". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  27. ^ NPSL (December 20, 2016). "Sioux Falls Thunder FC Joins the NPSL". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  28. ^ NPSL (December 19, 2016). "VSLT FC Joins the NPSL". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  29. ^ a b NPSL (January 18, 2017). "Napa Valley 1839 FC Brand Unveiled". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  30. ^ James, Marty (January 17, 2017). "Medina to lead Napa team during inaugural season in National Premier Soccer League". Napa Valley Register. Napa Valley Register. Retrieved January 19, 2017. 
  31. ^ NSPL (February 13, 2017). "PDX FC Joins the NPSL". Retrieved February 16, 2017. 
  32. ^ NPSL (February 1, 2017). "NPSL Soccer Coming to Pierce County, Washington". Retrieved February 9, 2017. 
  33. ^ NPSL (January 19, 2017). "Spokane Soccer Club Shadow Joins the NPSL". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  34. ^ "Spokane native Chad Brown named head coach of Shadow EPLWA team - Spokane Shadow Youth SC". Retrieved February 16, 2017. 
  35. ^ NPSL (December 19, 2016). "City of Angels FC Joins the NPSL". Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  36. ^ "Asheville City SC Joins NPSL". GoalNation. November 14, 2016. 
  37. ^ a b c "Minneapolis City Joins the NPSL as Part of Rebranded North Conference". FiftyFive.One. December 14, 2016. 
  38. ^ "FC Arizona Set To Join NPSL in 2017". SoccerNation. September 26, 2016. 
  39. ^ "Inter Nashville FC Brings Soccer To Music City". The First Eleven. November 18, 2016. 
  40. ^ "Kitsap Pumas leaving PDL after eight seasons". Kitsap Sun. November 1, 2016. 
  41. ^ "Sockers FC changes name to join National Premier Soccer League". Odessa American. December 13, 2016. 
  42. ^ "NPSL Expands With Orange County FC". GoalNation. November 16, 2016. 
  43. ^ "PDX FC (@pdxfootballclub) - Twitter". Retrieved February 16, 2017. 
  44. ^ "Sioux Falls Thunder FC Joins the NPSL". Sioux Falls Thunder FC. December 20, 2016. 
  45. ^ Casey, Daniel. "The Rust Belt Derby". Soccer News Day. Soccer News Day. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  46. ^ "NPSL Soccer Weekend Recap, SD Flash Wins SD Derby, FC Hasental, OC Pateadores, Sacramento Gold and Real San Jose Gets Wins too". Soccer Nation. Soccer Nation. Retrieved May 14, 2014. 
  47. ^ Thomas Hodul. "Alameda County Derby: NPSL’s Newest Intra-County Rivalry". Midfield Press. Retrieved April 12, 2016. 
  48. ^ "Rivalry Week in the NPSL Golden Gate Conference". Midfield Press. 2017-04-20. Retrieved 2017-05-12. 
  49. ^ "Vaqueros Surrender Trinity Cup to Dallas City FC". Retrieved June 8, 2014. 

External links[edit]