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.
52 matches have been played in our first season and we still have yet to decide a champion! That will happen this weekend as the final four matches are played out across three “corners” of Washington in Bellingham, Spokane and Vancouver. It’s a fitting end to a campaign that has seen a rise in interest for grass-roots soccer at the adult level all across the state.
The Spokane Shadow have earned the driver’s seat due to their impressive away form. The Lilac City Boys won six of seven on the road, and drew the seventh to go undefeated. They host Seattle on Saturday and Wenatchee on Sunday at Spokane Falls Community College. If they win both they are EPLWA Champs.
See The EPLWA Cup below and other gear the champions will earn here.
South Sound FC has topped the table for much of the season but recent form has let them down. They saw control of their own destiny slip through their fingers with a 2-0 home loss against Seattle. Now the Shock are forced to win at Bellingham Friday night and then hope the Shadow stumble on Saturday and / or Sunday. Meanwhile on Sunday South Sound will also need a win at Vancouver.
Vancouver Victory FC are the long shots in the contending trio. They need to beat South Sound on Sunday and hope for favorable results (losses or draws) in multiple other matches.
THIS WEEK: South Sound at Bellingham, Seattle at Spokane, South Sound at Vancouver, Wenatchee at Spokane
|EVERGREEN PREMIER LEAGUE||Pts||GP||W||L||T||GF||GA||GD|
|SOUTH SOUND FC||25||12||8||3||1||20||11||+9|
|VANCOUVER VICTORY FC||25||13||8||4||1||31||23||+8|
|YAKIMA UNITED FC||16||14||5||8||1||32||37||-5|
|WENATCHEE UNITED FC||15||13||5||8||0||27||31||-4|
|SEATTLE STARS FC||14||13||4||7||2||24||27||-3|
You can’t argue with the Shadow being worthy EPLWA Champions, if it happens. The club did not lose a road match all season. Now they can clinch the crown back home if they beat Seattle and Wenatchee. They also can clinch with other results. If Bellingham beats South Sound on Friday then Spokane would be title-holders with a win on Saturday. In their earlier meetings Spokane beat Seattle 4-1 and Wenatchee 3-2. The club is using social media to promote crowds this weekend with the catch phrase “Fill the Falls.” Spokane already leads the EPLWA in attendance but they hope to build on that as they work for some hardware. Last week two close encounters in Vancouver and Yakima turned into one-goal wins that have set the Shadow up for this big weekend. Read a Shadow press release on the big weekend here.
The South Shound Shock have a massive task ahead this weekend if they hope to pass the Shadow on the closing turn. They must win matches in Bellingham and Vancouver. Meanwhile, they need Spokane to lose or draw at least one of their matches. In previous meetings the Shock beat Bellingham 2-1 and Vancouver 4-1. Those were days of better form, though. Lately the Shock are struggling after consecutive losses to Wenatchee and Seattle. In order to stay alive SSFC will need to find goals somewhere from a roster that is just 7th in the league in scoring.
The Victory formula for a title requires a series of events that at this point seem unlikely. Job one is to beat South Sound on Sunday, and all the better if done by multiple goals. By then Vancouver might already know their fate. If Spokane wins on Saturday then the Victory are already eliminated from the title race. If the Shadow lose or draw, then hope remains. Meanwhile, even if South Sound beats Bellingham on Friday the Victory have a chance to catch them at 28 points. That’s where the goal differentials play in. Right now Spokane is +11, South Sound +9 and Vancouver +8. The Victory are in better form than when they lost 4-1 in Tacoma earlier in the season.
The Hammers are locked into fourth place no matter the outcome of their match on Friday or other matches around them. They would like to end on a good note at home and also set the tone for 2015 against the Shock, who beat them in Tacoma 2-1. Playing spoiler was not in the Hammers plans before the season began, but now that it has become their reality, South Sound can expect a tough fight. Can Tyler Bjork add to his 12 goals? That will be part of the story line. So will final records: Bellingham has always finished as winners. This season they are at risk of finishing dead even at 6-6-2 unless they can stop the Shock.
The Hoppers season came to a close last week with their 1-0 loss at Marquette Stadium to the Spokane Shadow. There were plenty of positives to the first campaign, including a high-scoring club, good home crowds, nice local newspaper coverage and active sponsors. Surely YUFC was hoping for a better record, but they will live and learn and prepare for 2015. That preparation includes looking for younger talent, building season ticket sales, gathering more sponsors, and even evaluating the options in home venues. The Hoppers relied on older local stars to fill their roster in 2014. It made for a tough team, but one that also lost some steam when matches bunched up and the weather got hotter. There’s no denying though that when it comes to fluid play and scoring goals, Yakima was one of the most entertaining squads in the league this year.
Wenatchee United are stretched pretty thin as the season comes to a close. They traveled with just 12 players last week, and coach Javier Reyna inserted himself into the line-up in the second half at WestSound (a 4-2 Capitals loss). Now they league is watching as Wenatchee prepares to travel to Spokane. What sort of roster will they bring? Can they make a competitive stand in a contest that could mean so much to the Shadow and other clubs as well? Earlier in Wenatchee they lost to Spokane 3-2. After the season closes the Capitals will assess their year and how they can maintain a competitive roster even during the summer when many players are earning money elsewhere and are unable to travel to away matches. Wenatchee could jump over Yakima if they win at Spokane.
The Stars are late bloomers. In recent weeks they have won 5-1, 4-1, 2-0 and drawn 3-3. It’s a big turn-around for a side that spent much of the season in last place. Now they know they will finish no lower than 7th and if they can stay hot and win at Spokane they have a chance to jump to 5th place. It won’t be easy as they lost their top defender, Bastien Catrin, to a red card in last week’s 3-3 draw in Bellingham. The Stars might be the last great hope for clubs looking for a Shadow loss or draw. They seem to play without care and have dangerous attacking options on the wing and up the middle. If the Stars are still “having fun,” and travel with a full squad, then the Shadow will have to be at their best on Saturday.
WestSound FC ended their inaugural EPLWA season with a 4-2 win over Wenatchee in Silverdale last Saturday. There was hope in the finish, especially from the play of local forward Colin Ralston. The young, lanky, almost elegant striker broke through with a hat trick for his first goals of the year. More to come from him in 2015? WestSound have claimed all along that they are better than their record. True enough that they battled every match and often stayed close. Now that they know what it takes to compete statewide, it will be interesting to see what sort of recruiting efforts the club undertakes next. It could also be all about change in other areas. The “Kitsap Alliance FC” will be their new name. New colors will be red and royal blue. New crest coming as well. How about a new venue? It’s possible the team will play in Bremerton next year at Memorial Stadium, former home of the PDL Kitsap Pumas.
The following partners and sponsors are crucial to growing the Evergreen Premier League. Please visit their websites! Want to connect with the EPLWA or one of our clubs? Contact us at: EPLWA2014@gmail.com.
OFFICIAL MEDIA PARTNER
OFFICIAL SOCCER SCARVES PARTNER
OFFICIAL GOALKEEPER GEAR PARTNER
OFFICIAL TRAINING GEAR PARTNER
OFFICIAL GRAPHIC DESIGN PARTNER
|OFFICIAL NATURAL SPORTS FUEL PARTNERwww.VivaGolazo.com|