State of the EPLWA: Here comes “Title Tilt Thursday”

In a unique bit of scheduling this week the Evergreen Premier League will play two matches on Thursday (July 10.) Both of them are critical in the race to finish on top of the table and thus win the league title. It’s “Title Tilt Thursday” and even though no result can clinch for any of the sides involved, we should know a lot more about who has the best chance by the time Friday arrives.

stateoftheEPLWATitle Tilt Thursday features #1 South Sound FC hosting Seattle Stars FC at 7:00 PM at Harry Lang Stadium and #2 Vancouver Victory FC hosting #3 Spokane Shadow at 7:00 PM at McKenzie Stadium.

Last week Spokane and Vancouver played to a 1-1 draw. That result was music to the ears of South Sound FC. The Shock had dropped their match in hand on Saturday when they fell 3-1 in Wenatchee. The next day the Shadow and Victory handed their fate right back to South Sound, who once again control their own destiny. Meanwhile Yakima blasted Bellingham 6-0 and Seattle beat WestSound 4-1.

There are many scenarios in play when it comes to winning the league. The Shock can get to 34 points if they win out. That would give them the crown. Spokane can get to 32 if they win out. So clearly the Shadow need help from Shock opponents. Meanwhile Vancouver can get as high as 31 points. Since the Victory’s final two are at home against Spokane and then South Sound, if they win both they guarantee at least a tie for first place. Goal differential would then come into play to decide our first champion. See the tiebreaker rules here.

LAST WEEK: Yakima 6-0 Bellingham, Wenatchee 3-1 South Sound, Spokane 1-1 Vancouver, Seattle 4-1 WestSound.

THIS WEEK: Thursday July 10: Spokane at Vancouver, Seattle at South Sound.  Friday July 11: Spokane at Yakima. July 12: Seattle at Bellingham, Wenatchee at WestSound.

SOUTH SOUND FC 25 11 8 2 1 20 9 +11
VANCOUVER VICTORY FC 25 12 8 3 1 30 21 +9
SPOKANE SHADOW 20 10 6 2 2 19 10 +9
BELLINGHAM UNITED 19 12 6 5 1 28 24 +4
YAKIMA UNITED FC 16 13 5 7 1 32 36 -4
WENATCHEE UNITED FC 15 12 5 7 0 25 27 -2
SEATTLE STARS FC 10 11 3 7 1 19 24 -5
WESTSOUND FC 7 13 2 10 1 11 33 -22
Hector Valdovinos, at right, has nine goals for the Hoppers with one match left to go. (Yakima Herald)
Hector Valdovinos, at right, has nine goals for the Hoppers with one match left to go. (Yakima Herald)

goalKING race for most goals scored: Tyler Bjork still leads the way with 11. Hector Valdovinos has one match left to play (Friday, Yakima hosts Spokane) and is at 9. Jordan Jones of Vancouver has seven.


Shocked in Wenatchee: South Sound fell 3-1 but then got their edge back the next day when Spokane and Vancouver drew with each other. (Wenatchee World)
Shocked in Wenatchee: South Sound fell 3-1 but then got their edge back the next day when Spokane and Vancouver drew with each other. (Wenatchee World)


buttonsssfc-500SOUTH SOUND FC (25 points) Seattle, at Bellingham, at Vancouver

The Shock dropped a match in hand when they fell 3-1 in Wenatchee last week. They got good news the next day when Spokane and Vancouver tied, giving the Shock their own destiny back. If South Sound can win out, they are the 2014 EPLWA Champions. They could even lose one of their last three and win it all on goal differential if Spokane draws or loses one of their final four. One could argue that the Shock don’t have a title-contending offense. They have made up for that with the toughest defense to beat in the league. Their final three opponents have all had matches where they scored 5+ goals. If the Shock take it all, they will have earned it.

75tnv2fc-full-color-crestVANCOUVER VICTORY FC (25 points) Spokane, South Sound

The Victory may be down to their final two matches, but the scheduling “gods” knew what they were doing. Those matches are against the other title contenders, and the Victory also have their destiny at their own feet. If Vancouver wins both matches they would finish with 31 points and would claim at least a tie for first in the final standings. Then a tiebreaker would be used, and goal differential would come into play. Right now the Victory are +9 while South Sound are +11. Spokane are also +9. If the Victory beat Spokane and South Sound, then the Shadow could get no more than 30 points, one behind V2FC. South Sound could get no more than 31 points, which if they did would tie V2FC.

The Shadow and Victory play again on what we are calling “Title Tilt Thursday” this week. (Gerald Barnhart)

buttonsshadow-sc-crop-2SPOKANE SHADOW (20 points) at Vancouver, at Yakima, Seattle, Wenatchee

Despite being the hottest club in the EPLWA, unbeaten over eight straight matches, the Shadow still need help to win the title. They need a South Sound loss or two draws. The Shadow can reach 32 points if they win out. If they can win on Thursday in Vancouver then they would all but eliminate the Victory while keeping their hopes alive. Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Vancouver was a great result for South Sound, but not a bad result for the Shadow. With two matches in hand over Vancouver, and hanging five  points behind them, the Shadow could lose on Thursday and still finish ahead of V2FC with help. They would of course prefer to get all three points and put the pressure on the Shock.

buttonsbufc-clearBELLINGHAM UNITED FC (19 points) Seattle, South Sound

The Hammers were contenders for two years in the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) before leaving that all-Canadian circuit to help found the EPLWA. They finished 3rd in 2012 and 2nd in the PCSL in 2013. It seems likely now that they will finish fourth in the debut season of the EPLWA. Their goal differential might come into play. They can seal 4th with a win over Seattle on Saturday. Otherwise, Yakima could get level with them or Wenatchee could pass them if the Capitals win out and the Hammers don’t get one more win.

R2300-whole-crestYAKIMA UNITED FC (16 points) Spokane

The Hoppers delivered payback last week, matching an 8-2 loss to Bellingham with a 6-0 win over the Hammers at Marquette Stadium. The middle part of the season was not kind to the Hoppers, but now they have won two in a row and will certainly want to spoil Spokane’s season on Friday. YUFC and Spokane are keeping alive a rivalry that goes back to the mid 1990’s when the Yakima Reds and Shadow of the PDL played meaningful matches and competed for regional bragging rights. The grass will be tall and brittle, and the heat will be oppressive on Friday night. Spokane will have played the night before in Vancouver. The Hoppers know well that this could be their chance to put a banana peel in front of the Shadow title hopes.

Hoppers supporters hold their scarves high. (Facebook)
Hoppers supporters hold their scarves high. (Facebook)

WUFC Gold fb iconWENATCHEE UNITED FC (15 points) at WestSound, at Spokane

The Capitals are looking up at 4th place, with a desire to get there if they can win out and get favorable results from others. It’s a late-season rally for the club, which has displayed character and fight along the way. The home season is over, and Wenatchee is left to try to improve their fate on the road. That will be a tough task for a team that has just one win away this season. This weekend’s trip to Silverdale to play WestSound FC has been bumped up a day to Saturday July 12 so that it does not overlap with the World Cup Final. The Caps beat WestSound 2-0 a few weeks ago in Wenatchee.

buttonsstars-logo-new-575SEATTLE STARS FC (10 points) at South Sound, at Bellingham, at Spokane

The Stars are another club with hopes of a late-season surge. They could finish as high as 5th with a bit of help. On the other hand, the contenders will become big Stars fans as Seattle travels to South Sound Thursday and then to Spokane on Saturday July 19th. Seattle’s offense is humming with nine goals over two matches. They have nothing to lose and that is always a dangerous element. The Stars have just one win away from Starfire, though, and their record against their last three opponents so far in 2014 is 0-0-3 with a -8 goals against differential.

buttons300wsfcWESTSOUND FC (7 points) Wenatchee

There are plenty of off-season decisions ahead for WestSound FC. Will they adopt the name “Kitsap Alliance FC” like their associated youth club has? Take their new blue and red color scheme? Will they stay at Silverdale Stadium or perhaps move over to the grass pitch at Bremerton’s Memorial Stadium? It’s been a tough first season results-wise on the peninsula, but it has also opened up a lot of eyes to the local talent on hand and to the need for the EPLWA in the region. These guys can compete, and they are already talking about 2015. Before that though they have one match left, and it comes this Saturday when Wenatchee United visits Silverdale stadium.


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