This is the fourth installment of our 2017 NPSL North Conference Season Preview. We have already given you some of the best matchups to watch, introduced you to the eight teams, and provided you with three reasons to pay attention to the new league.
Welcome into the first edition of NPSL North Weekly! This will be a (you guessed it) weekly piece intended to brief you on all the latest from the National Premier Soccer League’s North Conference. In a normal week, you’ll find results, current standings, and the next round of fixtures, but since this is opening week for the league, we’ll cap off our 2017 NPSL North Preview with a predicted table and upcoming fixtures. There are a lot of unknowns about every team in the conference headed into this inaugural season, so much of this predicted order of finish is guesswork at best, but it should provide a general idea of which clubs have a shot at the title and which will finish closer to the bottom.
It’s hard to pick against the Crows. City performed well in the Premier League of America last season, and they are by far the most organized team in this conference. The club already has a solid fanbase, boosted by the unique opportunity for supporters to own a stake in the team. Anything less than the title for this club will be seen as a disappointment.
The Blue-Greens are the trendy dark-horse pick for the conference, and it’s understandable why. The team has brought together a decent group of college players from schools in northern Minnesota and have found some traction in their community. Duluth have also found their feet on social media, bantering with some other well-organized clubs. Duluth FC has a clear gameplan for their season, but we won’t really know what to expect until a few weeks in.
Viejos Son Los Trapos FC (VSLT)
VSLT will either be a title contender or a bottom feeder, but nobody really has any idea which. Their signings place them near the top, but that doesn’t mean much at this level of soccer. The club aims to bring together the Latino community of the Twin Cities, which may be a crucial niche for success. Community involvement paired with experienced players should bring success, but nothing is certain with this league.
The Mayhem are the other trendy pick for the league. The club is on the organized side of this conference, which should bring positive results. Med City have picked up an impressive sponsorship from Mayo Clinic Sport and have a beer named after the team, so something is going right down in Rochester. Their players are a bit of an unknown, but organization should pull the Mayhem through.
The bottom four clubs are all extremely hard to accurately predict. TwinStars have been around in NPSL for a while, but that doesn’t mean they have it figured out. Recent upheaval at the club has seen a small front office cleanout. The club says they’ve hired a new General Manager, but that has yet to make a difference. There’s quite a few players in this conference with experience at TwinStars, but most of them have moved on to other clubs. If this league was played off of history, TwinStars would be the favorites. Sadly for them, their competition is fresher and better prepared to succeed.
The Fusion have put together a few player signings that may be solid. They also fill the soccer void in Fargo, after FC Fargo went under last year. There’s no reason why this team can’t be successful in NPSL, but there isn’t enough to look promising.
The Thunder are very similar to Dakota Fusion in their potential. Like Med City, they’ve gotten a solid sponsorship from within the community, but there just aren’t signs of success at this club.
That tweet speaks for itself. The club hasn’t tweeted since then. Nobody really knows whether their name is La Crosse Aris or Eau Claire Aris, or if they even have a website. Pay attention to their opener against Med City, but only because there’s a reasonable chance they won’t show up.
Week 1 Schedule*:
VSLT vs Minneapolis City
Minnesota TwinStars vs Duluth FC
Sioux Falls Thunder vs Dakota Fusion
Med City FC vs LC Aris
*For exact kickoff times, locations, and tickets, visit the websites of the home club, which can be found by clicking the bolded team.
Who do you think will be successful this season? Who are you supporting? Which match(es?) will you be attending this weekend? Let us know in the comments!
Tomorrow we'll conclude our preview with an exclusive interview with Minneapolis City SC.