State of the EPLWA: Five weeks to decide a Champion

Welcome to the State of the EPLWA, a weekly update that will be posted early in the week during the regular seasonSee previous editions here.

stateoftheEPLWAThere are approximately five weeks remaining in the debut season of the Evergreen Premier League. In those 30+ days we will see crucial match-ups that will decide who gets to hoist the first-ever league title trophy. Last weekend the race only got more intense. The Spokane Shadow earned their place as contenders with a 2-0 win in Bellingham. Meanwhile South Sound and Vancouver did the job at home. The Shock topped WestSound FC 3-0 in a match at Lincoln Bowl that was close until two late goals. Vancouver blew a 2-0 lead in the late stages but surged forward with a big stoppage time winner over Seattle.

INFOGRAPHICS: See the league leaders in these graphics updated through June 15.

These four clubs make up of the top half of the table and the most-likely contenders for league champion. Let’s take a look at their remaining schedules below.

buttonsssfc-500SOUTH SOUND FC – at Spokane, at Seattle, Yakima, at Wenatchee, Seattle, at Bellingham, at Vancouver. The Shock have only played half of their schedule, yet they lead the league with 19 points. That’s the good news. The challenge for the Tacoma-based club is that five of their last seven matches are away from home, and three of those are at clubs directly chasing them for the title. That starts this weekend when South Sound travels to Spokane for a Saturday night June 21 7 PM biggie with the Shadow. The next day the Shock travel across the state and play Seattle (June 22) at Starfire at 7:30 PM.

South Sound (navy) played WestSound (white) on Saturday at Lincoln Bowl in Tacoma. The Shock recorded an important 3-0 shutout. (David Falk)
South Sound (navy) played WestSound (white) on Saturday at Lincoln Bowl in Tacoma. The Shock recorded an important 3-0 shutout. (David Falk)

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: South Sound v. WestSound

75tnv2fc-full-color-crestVANCOUVER VICTORY FC – at Yakima, at WestSound, at Spokane, Spokane, South Sound. The Victory have three straight away matches over the next few weeks. So far Vancouver has managed just one road win. They are 5-0-0 at home. The season ends with a back-to-back series a few days apart against Spokane, and then a final home match Sunday July 20 against South Sound. There is little room for error for the Victory as the Shock have two matches in hand over them.

buttonsbufc-clearBELLINGHAM UNITED FC – Wenatchee, at Yakima, Seattle, South Sound. There appears to be no room for error at all for the Hammers. Bellingham has just four matches left to play. Three of those four are at home in Civic Stadium, including what could be a title match Saturday night July 19 at 7 PM against South Sound. Bellingham will need to take care of business before then to assure a meaningful finale. The Hammers face three clubs in the lower half of the table before the Shock come for a visit.

buttonsshadow-sc-crop-2SPOKANE SHADOW – South Sound, Vancouver, at Vancouver, at Yakima, Seattle, Wenatchee. The word is out. The Shadow are not only contenders, but their remaining schedule could actually peg them as favorites. The club has four home matches still to play. They have a back-loaded list that sees them play five matches  in July. The Shadow host the Shock in a huge match this weekend, and then don’t hit the pitch again until July 6th. Can Spokane raise a ruckus with five matches over 14 days in July, or is that a recipe for fatigue? The previous Shadow-Shock meeting resulted in a 1-1 draw in Lakewood.

Seattle (white) and vancouver (blue) played another thriller on Saturday. V2FC remains in second after a 3-2 stoppage-time win. (Bradley York)
Seattle (white) and Vancouver (blue) played another thriller on Saturday. V2FC remains in second after a 3-2 stoppage-time win. (Bradley York)

Last week: South Sound 3-0 WestSound, Vancouver 3-2 Seattle, Yakima 0-4 Wenatchee, Bellingham 0-2 Spokane.

This week: See league schedule page.

SOUTH SOUND FC 19 7 6 0 1 16 5 +11
VANCOUVER VICTORY FC 18 9 6 3 0 23 17 +6
BELLINGHAM UNITED FC 16 10 5 4 1 24 16 +8
SPOKANE SHADOW 16 8 5 2 1 17 9 +8
YAKIMA UNITED FC 10 9 3 5 1 22 30 -8
WENATCHEE UNITED FC 9 8 3 5 0 17 17 0
WESTSOUND FC 7 9 2 6 1 6 20 -14
SEATTLE STARS FC 4 8 1 6 1 10 21 -11

R2300-whole-crestYAKIMA UNITED FC – The Hoppers are on a skid. An 8-2 loss in Bellingham was followed last week by a 4-0 loss at home to Wenatchee United. Yakima is settling into the middle of the pack and are in real danger of falling lower than that. Could it be tired legs from a roster that is the oldest in the EPLWA? Whatever the reason, the boys in red will need to pull themselves together for this week’s rematch of an “instant classic.” Vancouver comes to town after the two sides played an amazing 5-4 thriller earlier that was won in stoppage time by the Victory. The Hoppers still have matches against all four contenders.

WUFC Gold fb iconWENATCHEE UNITED FC – The revival of the Capitals has been simmering for a few weeks. Now they have arrived at a level goal differential with 17 scored and allowed. Further, WUFC have three wins and nine points. In a season that didn’t meet their expectations early on, Wenatchee has still been able to sweep aside their Central Washington rivals from Yakima. The next step will be to pass them in the standings if they can. The improved Capitals will play a role in deciding who eventually becomes EPLWA champion as they play three of the four clubs fighting for the title in the coming weeks.

buttons300wsfcWESTSOUND FC – WestSound FC remain competitive in their matches even though the scores don’t often reflect how hard they have battled. They stayed with South Sound for 82 minutes on Saturday before two late goals ended in a 3-0 defeat. The club had a good sense of humor about the late arrival of goal posts and nets, which delayed the Lincoln Bowl match by half an hour. A couple of new guys have been around recently and the rest of the season will help set in place a solid return in 2015, when the club will most-likely take the new name of their youth club, Kitsap Alliance FC. Most of WestSounds remaining matches are against the lower half of the table.

buttonsstars-logo-new-575SEATTLE STARS FC – The Stars are the unluckiest team in the EPLWA. That unfortunate title was clinched last week when Seattle lost another late heartbreaker, this time at Vancouver. The Stars’ lone win was in stoppage time in Wenatchee. Of their six losses, three have come  from goals scored after the 85th minute. Two of those were against the Victory. The Stars must fight on and hope to build momentum for 2015. They do face three of the top four clubs before their season ends, so they certainly have a chance to make some noise and help decide who wins the league.

Central Washington rivals Yakima (red) and Wenatchee (yellow) battled on Sunday. The Capitals topped the Hoppers 4-0. (Tracie Fowler)
Central Washington rivals Yakima (red) and Wenatchee (yellow) battled on Sunday. The Capitals topped the Hoppers 4-0. (Tracie Fowler)

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