Welcome to the State of the EPLWA, a weekly update that will be posted on Mondays during the regular season. See previous editions here.
The league continues its roll out of home openers, and in week two Spokane, Vancouver and Wenatchee made their debuts in front of the hometown fans. It was exciting to see over 2,000 fans turn up around the state of Washington for the four EPLWA matches played May 3-4. Spokane drew 731, Wenatchee 612, Vancouver 430, and Yakima’s second home match drew 250. More than the numbers, there were also supporters, chants, tifo, flags and color in both Vancouver and Wenatchee.
Local press continues to come through for the league. There were front page sports section features and coverage from the Spokesman-Review, Wenatchee World and Yakima Herald-Republic. The Columbian covered the Victory opener.
Bellingham United sits on top of the table after sweeping their away weekend. The Hammers have nine points (3-0-0) while second-place South Sound have six (2-0-0). Vancouver’s win pushes them into the top four with Yakima.
This week’s matches: Saturday May 10, 7 pm,Wenatchee United at South Sound FC (Harry Lang Stadium). Saturday May 10, 7 pm, Yakima United at Spokane Shadow (Spokane Falls CC). Sunday May 11, 3 PM, WestSound FC at Bellingham United (Civic Stadium). Sunday May 11, 4 pm, Vancouver Victory at Seattle Stars FC (Starfire Sports Stadium).
BELLINGHAM UNITED FC
It went about as well as can be expected for the Hammers, who scored seven goals in less that 24 hours to beat Spokane and then Wenatchee. BUFC’s schedule is such that they have played three straight matches against clubs that were playing their first-ever matches. For third-year Bellingham, that is a distinct advantage. Next the Hammers host WestSound FC on Sunday at Civic. WestSound is winless and goal-less after two matches.
Tyler Bjork scored a brace on Sunday in Wenatchee to tie for the league lead in goals with two. The Hammers struck four times in the first 20 minutes against the Capitals, including a penalty kick and a howitzer from Muhammad Mareneh.
Bellingham will host the Sounders U-23 of the PDL on May 9 as part of a soccer double-header.
Seattle has been idle for a spell and this week will host their home opener on Sunday at Starfire Sports against Vancouver Victory FC. To keep in shape the club played Evergreen State College during their off week and dropped a 1-0 decision to Geoducks.
Head coach Alex Kajumulo has been traveling with his youth teams, and was present at last week’s Wenatchee-Bellingham match.
The Shock have momentum going into this weekend’s home opener at Harry Lang Stadium against Wenatchee United. The club has bolted out of the gate with back-to-back away wins to sit in second place with six points. Sunday they faced Yakima United and Daniel Gray scored the match-winner in the 69th at Marquette.
The Shock have only allowed one goal in two matches, best average in the league.
If you are wondering when South Sound first plays Bellingham, here’s your answer: Sunday, June 1 at 2 PM at Harry Lang Stadium in Lakewood.
It was a memorable first time back for the Shadow on Saturday May 3 as the biggest EPLWA crowd so far so the team take an early lead over Bellingham. The 731 fans in attendance stayed after for player autographs.
This week it’s time to renew a rivalry from the Premier Development League era as Spokane hosts Yakima on May 10th.
Spokane is encouraging fans to coordinate their tailgate menus for the Yakima match.
Gonzaga’s Nick Hamer scored the first goal in Shadow EPLWA history. It was extra-special as Hamer is a Spokane native (Mead HS.)
The Victory put on a first-class show at their home opener, which featured a stocked, busy gear stand, multiple sideline signage, and a chanting supporters group providing tifo and color.
The steady rain might have kept the crowd down at 430, but the Victory were up with two goals in each half to win 4-0 over WestSound FC.
The Vanguard presented supporter scarves to the team after the match. “That was an awesome thing for the guys! Matt Braddock and the rest of the Vanguard boys really step up and they are our super-fans”, stated team owner Barrett Goddard. “It will be fun to watch them grow along with the team!”
Borce Atanisov was a force up front for the Victory, and scored their first-ever goal.
V2FC heads to Seattle on Sunday to provide the opposition in the Stars’ home opener.
The Capitals saw a deluge of rain just as fans were making their way into the Apple Bowl. Still, 621 braved the unusual Wenatchee weather and saw seven goals. The green and white were not pleased that they only got two of those.
It was a great weekend of celebration for the new club that included two trucks full of players in the Apple Blossom Parade, waving checkered green and white flags. The flags look like they will become a trademark of the side. The Bridge Mafia supporters group brought plenty of them in with them.
Cesar Ceppi, featured here just a while ago, scored the first-ever WUFC goal just two minutes into the home opener.
Wenatchee is challenged this week with a trip to Lakewood to face undefeated South Sound FC on Saturday night.
The Red and Black of Silverdale are looking for some kind of breakthrough this weekend. If they get one, it will have to be against the 3-0-0 Hammers of Bellingham. So far the EPLWA season has not been kind to WestSound. They have been outscored 6-0 over two losses.
Goalkeeper Jordan Hadden continues to help keep the score down for WSFC. For the second straight match he made multiple saves to deny further damage by the opposition.
On Sunday May 11 the club will travel to Civic Stadium to play BUFC.
The Hoppers got knocked around a bit by the more-physical South Sound, and eventually they dropped a 2-1 home decision. Junior Garcia scored the Yakima goal, putting him at 2 for the season and tied for top spot in the goalWA goalKING standings with Bellingham’s Tyler Bjork.
The Hoppers continue to get major press in Yakima. Another both-sides-of-the-fold front page of sports article greeted the club on Monday.
Next stop: Spokane. Yakima plays away from Marquette for the first time when they go north and east to tackle the Shadow on Saturday night.
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