SPOKANE, WA—(club release) The Spokane Shadow announced the 2017 schedule for the men’s First Team as it prepares for it’s first season in the National Premier Soccer League. The team will play a 10-match schedule, facing each of the other five clubs home and away. The regular season slate kicks off May 20 and will conclude July 8 with playoff potentially to follow.
The Northwest Conference campaign will feature six teams located in Washington and Oregon. The conference has two distinct flavors within its mix. It features a pair of historic and established with the Shadow and Kitsap SC. It also features three sides with significant European connections with FC Mulhouse Portland tied to France and the duo of OSA FC and Pierce County FC featuring a strong Italian influence. Two of the six clubs, Pierce County FC and PDX FC, are also newly-created sides.
One of the highlight matches of the campaign will be the season opener for Kitsap and Spokane on May 20. Arguably the two strongest sides – both finishing first in 2014 and 2015 – in Washington over the past three years, the two will meet for the first time at Gordon Field in Bremerton.
The Shadow, which will continue to play at Spokane Falls CC Stadium, will host its home opener for the men’s First Team Sunday, June 4 against PDX FC. The team will then wrap up its road schedule before finishing with four consecutive home games throughout June and early July.
Eight teams from the Northwest Conference, Golden Gate Conference and Southwest Conference will comprise the Regional Playoff field with the top two and a potential wild card from the Northwest moving on to the postseason. The eight teams will face one another based on seeding in the first round. The NPSL West Region Final will be July 29 with the NPSL Semifinals August 5 and NPSL Championship August 12.
In addition to the national playoff competition that is new for the Shadow First Team, the side will have an opportunity to earn an automatic berth into the 2018 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup tournament, where it will have a chance to face professional teams in the American equivalent of the FA Cup. The 2016 edition of the tournament featured 13 sides from the NPSL, most of which qualified as regular season or playoff conference winners. The NPSL, as a national league, receives an automatic allotment of berths into the tournament proper. Previously, in order to qualify as members of EPLWA, the team would have needed to participate through the new Open Division process, which runs from September to April and includes roster rules that would have been prohibitive to the team’s primarily collegiate season roster.
Spokane Shadow 2017 NPSL Schedule
Sat, May 20 @ Kitsap SC – 7:00
Sun, May 21 @ OSA FC – TBD
Sat, May 27 @ Pierce County FC – TBD
Sun, June 4 v PDX FC – 2:00
Sat, June 10 @ FCM Portland – 7:00
Sun, June 11 @ PDX FC – TBD
Sat, June 17 v Kitsap SC – 7:00
Sun, June 18 v FCM Portland – 7:00
Sat, June 28 v OSA FC – TBD
Sat, July 8 v Pierce County FC – 7:00
* Schedule subject to change
About the Opposition
Kitsap SC – Launched as Kitsap Pumas in 2009, the club has previously been a competitive staple of the USL PDL as one of the league’s only professional clubs. The offseason, though, has seen the club go through a major transformation as it switched to the NPSL and also changed from professional to amateur status. It has made a slight branding change for legal trademark purposes. The team won the 2011 PDL Championship, highlighting a fairly consistent competitive performance in the league that also included four division titles in eight seasons. They also played in the US Open Cup six times and registered their first victory over a professional league side in 2016 by stunning host Sacramento Republic FC of USL, 3-1, in the Third Round before falling to the Seattle Sounders the following round.
FC Mulhouse Portland – Previously Spartans FC, the club recently rebranded to FC Mulhouse due to its new international ties. Club owner Gary Allen partnered several American soccer enthusiasts to invest in FC Mulhouse France, the second oldest club in France. Founded in 1893, the club currently plays in the Championnat de France Amateur, which is the fourth tier in French soccer and was the club where famed manager Arsene Wenger began his playing career. The branding features a modification of the French club’s logo. As Spartans have been members of the NPSL since 2014 and play at Concordia University. They won the then four-team conference in 2014.
OSA FC – The club features teams for both men and women. The club’s roots began in 2013 as a women’s team with an Italian influence as it was operated by OSA Soccer Academy, which helped find soccer and school opportunities for Italians in the United States. The women’s side won the Northwest Division title in the WPSL that season before rebranding with the launch of a men’s side, FC Tacoma 253, in 2014. In 2015, the men won the NPSL Northwest Conference before FC Tacoma 253 dissolved to give way to OSA FC, which won the two-team conference in 2015 and 2016 to advance to the regional playoffs.
PDX FC – Based in Portland, the club is a new venture at this level and will be led by Luke Babson, who is the current women’s assistant coach at Western Oregon University. His brother Max will serve as administrator and owner.
Pierce County FC – The club is owned and operated by Giuseppe Pezzano and partnered with College Life Italia, a company that helps Italians match up with colleges and soccer clubs in the United States. The team, launching in 2017, will play in several venues around Pierce County.