Welcome to the State of the EPLWA, a weekly update that will be posted early in the week during the regular season. See previous editions here.
The season is zipping by, with 30 matches already played and 26 to go. A great race is underway for the top spot and thus the league championship. Bellingham United are back on top after their big win over Yakima. However South Sound FC have played three fewer matches.Vancouver also has a match in hand. Spokane is just three points back with two matches in hand.
The goalKING race is just as tight. Tyler Bjork went from mid-pack to leader after his six goal explosion. The Hammer now has 9 goals. Hector Valdovinos remains at 7. Mike Ramos has 6. Three players are tied with 5 each.
The EPLWA will pass the 10,000 fans mark in attendance this week. The current league-wide total is 9,446 for a per-match average of 331. Tacoma, Bellingham, Yakima and Vancouver will see home EPLWA matches this week.
In front of the nets the race for most shutouts remains a tight one. In a high-scoring league a clean sheet is rare, and last week no one could manage it. This means Vancouver (Sean Ervin) and Bellingham (Leo Cohen) are tied at the top with two shutouts each.
This week: June 14 – WestSound at South Sound (Lincoln Bowl, 1 PM), June 15 – Wenatchee at Yakima (Marquette, 1 PM), Seattle at Vancouver (McKenzie, 2 PM), Spokane at Bellingham (Civic, 3 PM)
|EVERGREEN PREMIER LEAGUE||Pts||GP||W||L||T||GF||GA||GD|
|BELLINGHAM UNITED FC||16||9||5||3||1||24||14||+10|
|SOUTH SOUND FC||16||6||5||0||1||13||5||+8|
|VANCOUVER VICTORY FC||15||8||5||3||0||20||15||+5|
|YAKIMA UNITED FC||10||8||3||4||1||21||25||-4|
|WENATCHEE UNITED FC||6||7||2||5||0||13||17||-4|
|SEATTLE STARS FC||4||6||1||4||1||7||14||-7|
BELLINGHAM UNITED FC
Two weeks ago the Hammers fell to third place after losing twice in the same weekend at Vancouver and at South Sound. How would the team respond? The answer is clear in their record-setting 8-2 win over Yakima United last Sunday before 716 fans at Civic Stadium. The club regained top spot with top form from Tyler Bjork, who was unstoppable in a first-half the likes of which the league may never see again. Bjork scored six goals in the half, topped off by a bicycle kick golazo as goal number six. The Hammers need the boost. The have already played nine of their fourteen matches. 16 points and a +10 goal differential is enough for top place right now, but there are three clubs on the Hammers’ heals. Next up: A big home match on Sunday against the Spokane Shadow, who are just three points behind Bellingham.
The Stars are just not aligned right now — for the Seattle Stars. It’s been a tough debut season for the Tukwila bunch, who have played just six matches. They lost players to other Seattle teams, and it’s been tough to find a single winning line-up. Juan Sandoval is currently acting as head coach for the club. Last Sunday the Stars created enough chances to get a win in Silverdale, but they didn’t finish them. It left them open for a late collapse, and that’s exactly what happened when they conceded a winner in the 88th minute. The task does not get easier. The Stars travel south to play Vancouver Victory FC at 2 pm on Sunday June 15.
The Shock are extending themselves about as far as a local elite club can. They had last week off as some players went to Ocean Shores for a fun tournament and others prepared for USASA U-23 Nationals. This week SSFC hosts WestSound FC at 1 PM on Saturday June 14 at the Lincoln Bowl. The club has already hinted at a very different line-up for this one. The younger guys will be off at nationals. Meanwhile the Shock are excited to play within the Tacoma city limits for the first time. Lincoln Bowl is a historic venue and the venue switch came about when Harry Lang Stadium was unavailable.
The Shadow currently occupy the “sleeper” label in the EPLWA. While the top three keep switching places, the Spokane club has gone undefeated in five matches and is well within reach with their 13 points. That makes this weekend’s trip to Bellingham a big one. The Shadow have not lost away. The Hammers are coming off of an 8-goal high. Something has to give. Spokane continues to lead the league in attendance with an average of 590 per match. Mike Ramos scored again as they beat Seattle 4-1 last week. He now has six. Nick Hamer got a brace, bringing his total to five.
The Victory were surprised in Wenatchee last week as the Capitals reversed a 3-1 loss earlier in Vancouver with a 3-1 win of their own. The loss dropped Vancouver to 5-3 on the season but they are still very much in the race for the championship. Mizra Ramic remains a scoring force for Vancouver. He got the goal in Wenatchee and now has five on the season. The next test for the Victory comes on Sunday when they host Seattle. The two clubs met earlier in the season at Starfire and it was a close one. Seattle had good stretches of play but the Victory stood tall and won it with a single goal in the late stages.
Wenatchee United are a side who just might be better than their record shows. That’s what ScoreCzar thinks. His computer rankings have the Captials 5th, ahead of Yakima. It was a big win for WUFC last week, 3-1 over Vancouver at Wenatchee Valley CC. The club improved to 2-5-0 and laid a foundation for more. The challenge continues as the club travels to Yakima for the first time. The Central Washington rivals met on May 25 and that was the scene of Wenatchee’s other win, also 3-1. This time the match is at Marquette, and the Hoppers will be pretty angry after their drubbing last week in Bellingham.
The slow-starting WestSound Men are making progress. They notched their first-ever home win with a 2-1 conquest of Seattle last Sunday. Leo Potts scored both goals including the winner in the 88th minute. The club played their most complete match of the season, using good midfield work with timely finishing. Meanwhile the defense did enough to keep Seattle at bay, and goalkeeper Jordan Hadden continued his solid play. Up next for WestSound is a trip to Lincoln Bowl in Tacoma to face South Sound FC. They met in WestSound’s debut match back in late April. South Sound won that one 2-0.
The Hoppers have some healing to do after getting spanked 8-2 last Sunday in Bellingham. It’s back to the practice pitch and time to prepare for the Wenatchee invasion at 1 PM on Sunday June 15. YUFC and the Capitals could develop into a really nice Central Washington derby. Certainly the Hoppers will be looking to get back at Wenatchee for an earlier 3-1 loss. It’s gut-check time for Yakima. They’ve played 8 of their 14 league matches. Four of their last six are at home. The Hoppers are 2-1-0 at Marquette so far this season.
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