The 2014 Evergreen Premier League (EPLWA) season ended in late July with the Spokane Shadow winning the championship by finishing top of the table. Since then the league’s clubs have produced some pretty big off-season news. There is more coming in the weeks ahead, so now seems like a good time to recap what has happened so far.
The first big off-season news from the EPLWA came in late September when Bellingham United announced that is was undergoing a change in ownership. Ruffneck Scarves founder Jeff McIntyre was the “face of the club” for the Hammers. In 2015 when BUFC returns to outdoor play they will do so with McIntyre as a fan rather than an owner.
“We felt that it was the right time to transition the running of Bellingham United to Whatcom Sports Commission, because we have all the confidence in the world that they can take the team to the next level. With the resources and relationships WSC has within the local community we know that Bellingham United is in good hands and will continue to grow.” commented McIntyre regarding the ownership change.
Adding to the news, the Hammers also announced that they were taking over the former WSA Rapids of the PASL and rebranding them “Bellingham United” and then helping to launch the new Western Indoor Soccer League (WISL).
The Hammers are considered the “founding club” of the EPLWA because they set a standard of play and match day presentation for two years in the Pacific Coast Soccer League (PCSL) and brought that commitment to Washington adult soccer and the new league.
On September 28 Wenatchee United FC became simply “Wenatchee FC.” This change meant that the giant “United” which had run across the middle of the club crest would have to be altered. The new crest that Wenatchee Football Club will stand behind going forward turned out to be an even stronger image than the original one. Now the apple is center and the bridge crosses through the middle.
Wenatchee FC are working on another big announcement, planned to be revealed at the end of January.
Owners / Operators of the eight Evergreen Premier League clubs met for the Annual General Meeting on Friday October 24 at the banquet room at Shawn O’Donnell’s Restaurant and Irish Pub near Everett, Washington to review the 2014 season and make initial plans for 2015.
The EPLWA hosted the meeting and provided an agenda for the participants as well as lunch and refreshments.
The previous AGM was held in January of this year, just under four months ahead of kick off.
“Collectively we all felt that it was important to meet well in advance of the 2015 EPLWA season,” EPLWA President Peter Ostrovsky said, “in order to give the eight clubs plenty of lead time to undertake their planning and preparations for the next season, along with syncing up with improvements in certain league processes.”
The owners agreed to some operational fine-tuning they foresee will help make 2015 run even more smoothly and professionally.
Ostrovsky spoke at the beginning of the meeting, in part bolstering the agenda the league was founded on: a local competition for players, coaches, supporters and soccer club owners to build unique Washington culture in the sport of soccer.
After the meeting Ostrovsky was pleased with the commitment of the people involved in running the league’s clubs.
“There is no doubt that the clubs are committed to being player-centric and to fostering connections in their communities to grow the sport and create multi-dimensional development opportunities in and around the game. I feel strongly that this is what will continue to build Washington State hometown soccer culture.”
Clubs left the meeting with several items on their “to do” lists, including finding home stadium dates to build the schedule for the 2015 season.
Spokane Shadow forward Timmy Mueller went from the EPLWA pitch to Division One college soccer with the Oregon State Beavers. He came up big for the Beavers in his first year, tying for the Conference lead in total goals with 11 and helping Oregon State earn its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2003. The freshman led the Conference with four game-winning goals and ranked in the league’s top five in shots per game (3.00), points per game (1.26) and goals per game. Mueller was the leading goal scorer on a Beavers’ offense that finished the regular season as the nation’s tenth-ranked scoring offense with 2.05 goals per game and was ranked third in points per game, averaging 6.53.
Mueller wasn’t the only EPLWA player that made the league proud in the Fall. Mike Ramos (also of the Shadow) was a First Team All-American. He was also an invite at the MLS Seattle Sounders Las Vegas Combine. Many other EPLWA players shined in the NWAC and other leagues.
December 14, 2014 – Evergreen Premier League announces team offensive and defensive MVP’s
An early Christmas present came to fans and 16 honored players as the EPLWA and its clubs announced an offensive and defensive MVP for each team. Featured picks included league goal scoring champion Tyler Bjork (Bellingham) and All-American Mike Ramos (Spokane).
The new year started with a bang when the coaching staff of Vancouver Victory FC sent a letter to supporters explaining that they were resigning from V2FC.
The Victory finished third in the league in season one and battled for the crown up to the final day. The coaches expressed a desire for the community to remain behind the team, even suggesting they would remain fans and be in the stands this summer.
“The purpose of this letter is to convey how difficult this decision was for us and to relay our support of the Vancouver Victory going forward. Although we will not be running training sessions for the Victory, we will be in the stands rooting for our boys,” wrote former head coach Biniam Afenegus.
“All three of us are very thankful for the opportunity provided to us to serve as the inaugural coaching staff for the Victory and we hope that we have established a level of professionalism and competitiveness which will endure. We are also thankful for all the support shown to us throughout the community but especially from the Vanguard supporters.”
Looking ahead to pre-season 2015
There will be plenty of league news to follow as we count down to kick off 2015, which will likely be in early May.
The Victory will need to find and then announce a new coaching staff. It won’t be too long before we hear more from Wenatchee FC. The EPLWA also anticipates one more ownership / operational switch that would include a name and crest change for one of the clubs.
There are hopes of sponsors and perhaps an official league ball.
Then there is the 2015 match schedule. A working draft is supposed to hit desks in the front office in early February, with hopes that a few short weeks later it can be approved and posted to the public.