by David Falk
The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) announced yesterday that the Milwaukee Torrent is their latest new team. Near the same time the Premier Development League (PDL) announced that former NPSL side Tobacco Road FC was joining their league.
Washingtonians are of course aware that the Kitsap Pumas recently jumped from the PDL to the NPSL.
Now in a November 14 article at SoccerNation.com by Dike Anyiwo, NPSL Chairman Joe Barone goes on record as saying that nationawide leagues are actively working to undermine each other – and the results are likely to only harm soccer in the states.
“Recently, a large number of NPSL clubs have been contacted by a competing league or leagues, and incentivized to move away from our league. Some clubs have accepted these incentives, but the majority have not.
“There is a deliberate destabilization of the infrastructure we are trying to build here,” continued Barone. “It’s organized, structured chaos that is being foisted upon American soccer, with a specific outcome in mind, and we feel like that is dangerous. It is not healthy for the growth of the game at large.”
Barone Contacted EPLWA About Joining NPSL
Barone contacted the Evergreen Premier League (EPLWA) in November of 2015 on behalf of the NPSL to see if there was any interest in having a few or even all of the EPLWA clubs jump over to the NPSL in what might have been called the “NPSL Evergreen Division.” I spoke with Barone for about half an hour on the phone, and to be fair, he never once tried to ‘incentivize’ any kind of deal. He was sensitive to local soccer here, and explained that what the NPSL could offer is “a chance at a national title.” The basics of the call were presented by email to all of the EPLWA clubs. The feedback was unanimous that joining the NPSL made little sense. The costs would be significantly higher, the sense of control (out of state HQ) would be lessened and there was little proof that fans would care about such a shift.
Are national titles ‘overrated?’ In terms of prestige they are important. For supporters, there is little evidence in the Northwest that winning one helps a club. Prime example: the Kitsap Pumas won the 2011 PDL national title – and their attendance dropped significantly the following year and after. National playoff results are great for the resume’ but they drain the bottom line.
Regional Leagues Take Off
In recent years regional leagues have sprung up in Washington (EPLWA), Louisiana / the deep South (GCPL), the Midwest (PLA), Northern California (PPL), the Northeast (ASL) and elsewhere. (See also this recent goalWA.net article.)
It’s truly the “Wild, wild West” for soccer, all over the country. Clubs are in essence “free agents” with plenty of leagues to choose from. In the end, something’s gotta give, right? Or, do we need all these league models (local, state, regional, national) because we are such a large, diverse country and so young in our soccer development? Do we let our capitalistic nature take its course?
Social Media Sites Try To Take It All In
Imagine trying to cover the soccer scenes in 50 countries. That is pretty much the task for minor league soccer followers in the USA. Yet some are devoted enough and brave enough to wade into the task.