THINK TANK FC: The return of a column on operating adult soccer clubs


by David Falk

GoalWA-Logo-200-clearBack in 2012 I started a column called “Think Tank FC” on the archived, original

Once I began helping the Evergreen Premier League, and then the Western Indoor Soccer League — and now also the Northwest Premier League (!) that column sort of went away.

It wasn’t on purpose, but rather because I was in the trenches of building elite adult soccer in Washington – with barely time to breathe or reflect on the actual topic.

It’s 2017 and things have changed quite a bit in Washington, haven’t they? Some of what I talked about back then has come true. We also have new clubs on the scene and new leagues operating at a statewide level. Short version: “Think Tank FC”  is coming back.

I am going with three to-the-point sections this time around: Local News, Do This and Around the USA. “Local News” will recap some of what is happening with elite amateur / semi-pro soccer in Washington — with an eye towards business and operations. “Do This” will provide an idea for clubs to try. “Around the USA” will post links to what other clubs and leagues in other states are doing.

Have resources to share? Send them to me at

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NPSL Official Logo 2016The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) just finished a season in Washington in the newly expanded “Northwest Conference” with teams in Portland (2), Seattle, Kitsap, Spokane and Pierce County. The Kitsap Pumas moved over from the Premier Development League and are continuing their tradition of winning. They are in the playoffs and will play in Oakland against CD Aguiluchos on Saturday July 22.

There were plenty of challenges as the NPSL increased from 2 to 6 clubs in the Northwest. Kitsap Pumas attendance dropped, though the club didn’t release numbers.

The Spokane Shadow competed on the pitch with 12 points but also were trying to find a balance between playing at Spokane Falls Stadium and new land they have at the Spokane Polo Grounds – which does not meet current NPSL requirements for a venue. The Shadow ended up playing a single NPSL match at the Polo Grounds this season.

Rank Northwest Conference GP W L T Pts GF GA GD Pts/GP
1 Kitsap Soccer Club 10 6 2 2 20 17 12 5 2
2 FCM Portland 10 6 4 0 18 17 14 3 1.8
3 PDX FC 10 5 4 1 16 17 15 2 1.6
4 Spokane Soccer Club Shadow 10 3 4 3 12 21 14 7 1.2
5 OSA FC 10 3 4 3 12 15 15 0 1.2
6 Pierce County FC 10 1 6 3 6 14 31 -17 0.6

There was a sense of deja vu in regards to NPSL soccer in Tacoma. For a second time Giuseppe Penzano put a club in the area, and for a second time that club ended up playing some matches elsewhere. It was FC Tacoma 253 then, and Pierce County FC now (a new club). PCFC moved some matches to Highline Stadium in Burien – in King County – at the end of their season. The Pierce County FC roster was filled with Italian players from College Life Italia.  Pezzano owns OSA FC Seattle, which made on-pitch progress this year with a run in the US Open Cup.

It was nice to watch some of the local NPSL matches live thanks to broadcasts from OSA FC, Pierce County FC and the Kitsap Pumas.

Next time I’ll look at the 2017 PDL NW season.

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Connect to your County’s Sports Commission

Soccer does not always rank high on the list of sports for local government and county employees. None the less it is important for Washington elite adult soccer clubs that have eyes on growing their presence in their community to set up a meeting with their local county sports commission. Here’s the one for Snohomish, as an example. And here’s Spokane’s.

Set up a meeting and come bearing gifts of club t-shirts, scarves, etc. as you shake hands and share your vision for your club and soccer in your county. While you might not make fans of them on the spot, you could perhaps get your matches on their county sports calendar. You might volunteer to be on a board that talks about soccer field development. You could ask about various sports grants these commissions might have knowledge of. You should exchange emails and social media links. You could ask the county sports commission if you could submit your club’s news for their website or monthly newsletter.

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See what has been happening in Detroit with MLS and the NPSL Detroit City FC? Well, this might head to the courts.  It’s as close as “F” is to “S.”

Attendance for semi-pro soccer in Washington is flat (and has traditionally been lower than the national average) but in some parts of the USA it remains strong, as this NPSL data shows.

What’s all this buzz about Stockade FC? Warranted, it would seem.

Where do the lower leagues ‘belong’ in the scheme of US Soccer? Here’s a take.

What’s your take on…USL D-3?

Let’s talk numbers: American Pyramid Blog does some nice footwork in compiling league costs for clubs out there that want to break in to the semi-pro scene.


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