THINK TANK FC: EPLWA chooses flexibility in ever expanding NW adult men’s scene

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Think Tank FC talks about running adult soccer clubs at the elite / semi-pro level in the state of Washington and the Northwest. David Falk is the Media Director for the Evergreen Premier League, Western Indoor Soccer League and Northwest Premier League. He founded soccer news website goalWA.net in 2011.

by David Falk

The Evergreen Premier League voted on December 5 to change its competition format. The league spent four years with a traditional table that declared a winner by who finished first. 8 clubs played each other home and away in a balanced format of 14 matches. In that fashion the Spokane Shadow won the EPLWA in 2014 and 2015. Vancouver Victory did so in 2016. Last season the Seattle Stars claimed the title.

Now the league has divided itself into 3 divisions of 3 clubs each with the division winners making the playoffs along with a wild card club. The regular season has been reduced to 10 matches which we be followed by semifinal and final rounds.

COASTAL

CASCADE

COLUMBIA

Oly Town Artesians Bellingham United Spokane Shadow
Seattle Stars Olympic Force Tri-Cities Alliance
Vancouver Victory WP South Sound Yakima United

untitled (2)

Flexibility

What the league may have sacrificed in terms of football tradition it has gained when it comes to flexibility with movement of clubs in either direction: expansion or contraction.

3 Divisions means now that the EPLWA can accept a club into any one or more than one of those divisions without having to reformat the entire league schedule. The division(s) involved would adapt. The same is true if a club leaves. The division does the adjusting. As they have it now, to get to 10 matches each club plays home / away against their division (4 matches) and 6 against the rest of the league, rotating and based on geography and parity.

Here we Grow

The flexibility might not have been needed back in 2014, but in just this short 5 years the landscape of elite adult amateur men’s soccer has put everyone on notice that anything could happen. It looks right now like that ‘anything’ is more clubs and then more clubs.

Right now the Evergreen Premier League leads the Northwest with 9 clubs. The National Premier Soccer League has 6. The PDL has 6. The UPSL has just upped its total to 3. They say more clubs will be joining in their Northwest Conference.

Meanwhile, a new start-up league called the Western Washington Premier League (WWPL) hopes to begin play in 2018 with at least six clubs. See the charts below.

NPSL

Kitsap Pumas PDX FC FCM Portland
PacNW-OSA FC Pierce County FC Spokane Shadow

PDL

Sounders U23 Lane United Timbers U23
TSS Rovers FC Calgary Foothills Victoria Highlanders

UPSL

Boise FC Magic Valley FC  Southern Oregon FC

WWPL (Not Official)

Lacey FC Snohomish County
Harbor FC (Gig Harbor) Twin City Union (Centralia)
Issaquah SC Grays Harbor FC

 

The lists above include 30 clubs in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia and Alberta. The leagues have varying costs and minimum standards.

The Evergreen Premier League’s new structure cuts down on travel expenses and time while also making adding clubs easier. So far the league has been pretty picky about applicants. They may remain so, but now they will also be able to watch what happens in the new WWPL and perhaps one day a club from that regional league will apply to the EPLWA ‘state league.’ Likewise, if a club from one of the national leagues needs a change, then there is now room without lengthening the schedule beyond the months  of May, June and July.

Explosion?

Are we on the verge of an adult elite men’s soccer club ‘explosion?’ Already in the middle of one? There is a working list of interested clubs beyond even those shared here. If some of them also hit the pitch, then an explosion it might well be.

Watch in the coming weeks and months to see where the WWPL ends up in terms of club numbers. Also keep an eye on the UPSL, which now has a Oregon club to go with two in Idaho.

Flexibility seems to be the right call.

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