Welcome to another edition of Round Table, this being our first look into the rest of the leagues in session this fall. For those new to Round Table, this series is designed to provide weekly updates on American soccer leagues that typically don’t get a lot of coverage. The three leagues on tap here are the new third-division and fully professional NISA, the NPSL Members Cup, and the amateur UPSL. All three of these leagues started this fall, so there’s not a whole lot of ground to cover to catch outselves up to the present date. So without further ado, let’s take a look at this week’s results, tables, and intriguing moments in lower-league US soccer.
Let’s start with the all-new NISA. This is USL League One’s direct competition as the other USSF-sanctioned Division III league in the US soccer pyramid. The league has been in the works for a while, but some issues along the way delayed the league’s start date until this fall. The wait has been well worth it thus far, however, as we now get a glimpse at what the level of play will be in the league as well as a couple of expansion teams that aren’t just new to NISA, but also newly existing. To date, only one match has been played in what has been dubbed the NISA Showcase, which is effectively NISA’s fall season. That match was a 3-3 draw between the Oakland Roots and the California United Strikers, two clubs playing in their first official seasons. Both were originally slated to play in the NPSL Founders Cup, but were among the many to withdraw from that competition. Both have found a home in NISA, and both had bright moments in the match.
Buoyed by its reported 5000+ home crowd, Oakland settled into the match quickly and dominated the first 15-20 minutes with strong attacking play. They got their reward in the 20th minute through a Jack McInerney goal. McInerney has MLS stops such as Philadelphia Union, Columbus Crew, and LA Galaxy on his resume, and he showed his experience early. He certainly didn’t stop there, however, earning himself a hat-trick by the 42nd minute. Cal United responded on the stroke of halftime with a well-taken corner kick, making the score at the break 3-1 in favor of Roots SC. As it turned out, corners would be Oakland’s defensive weakness, as two goals in minutes 80 and 87 would reveal. Though Oakland was unable to secure the three points, it seems safe to say that the Roots SC organization will view Saturday’s match as a success, and the crowd was clearly an electric one for third-division soccer.
This Saturday, two more NISA matches take place, and the one to keep an especially close eye on is the first-ever NISA Challenge Cup between LA Force and 1904 FC. LA Force were founded as an expansion team to the NISA quite recently and are connected with the Golden State Force of USL League Two. They’ll face off in what NISA hopes to be an instant local rivalry against San Diego 1904 FC, a team partially owned by Real Madrid star Eden Hazard. Like the Oakland-Cal United match last Saturday, this one will be the first official match for both sides. Mycujoo.tv is the live streaming source for all NISA Showcase matches this fall, but for some reason, it doesn’t look like this particular match is available on mycujoo right now.
Meanwhile, in the NPSL Members Cup, the season is more properly under way. Only six clubs are participating in the league, and a handful of those are likely to leave and join NISA for the spring season, but nonetheless, the fall season will continue for the Members Cup. New York Cosmos B lead the league with seven points from three matches, while Detroit City have won both of their two opening matches and sit one point behind the Cosmos. Chattanooga FC recently earned their first win of the 2019 Members Cup season over Napa Valley 1839 FC, and that puts them in 3rd position with four points from four matches. Milwaukee Torrent are even on points with Chattanooga but have two games in hand, while Michigan Stars FC and Napa Valley round out the standings.
There are two matches to follow in the NPSL this week, both at 7 PM Central time this Saturday, Sep 9. Milwaukee welcomes Chattanooga to Hart Park as both teams battle for 3rd position, while the Cosmos look to extend their lead in a home matchup with Napa Valley, a team in desperate need of their first points of the season. Even just a goal to open their Members Cup account would be a huge morale boost to a team that’s struggled thus far. Milwaukee-Chattanooga is available to stream on mycujoo, while New York-Napa Valley is not at the time of writing.
Only a few of the UPSL’s many conferences have kicked off thus far, including the Division II Northeastern Conference, in which New Jersey FC lead, and the Division I and II Southeast Conference. The Division I side of the Southeast Conference is broken up into three groups. The first is Florida Central, which Inter Orlando Academy lead after just one matchday. The second is Florida Palm Beach, in which the only match thus far was a 11-0 thrashing of FSI Vultures by the Boyton Sharks. Finally, there’s the Mayors Cup, currently led by an outreach of First Baptist Church Orlando called Cambio D Ritmo. The only group in the Southeast Conference’s Division II lineup that has begun play is Florida South, and the leaders of that group after one match are the Miami Aces.
I counted 58 matches in the UPSL this week, as more and more conferences get their respective seasons started. There are a few particularly promising ones, including a local battle between San Antonio Runners and San Antonio Corinthians, the latter being one of the more experienced and well-versed lower-league soccer clubs in Texas. That match will not be streamed by mycujoo, but one that will is JETSETV FC versus FSI Vultures (remember, the team that lost by eleven in the Florida Palm Beach season opener?). That one kicks off at 6 PM Central time this Saturday, September 7.
That’s all for the first lower-league edition of Round Table- thanks for reading! As always, go watch these local clubs’ matches if there are any near you. They need your support and you’ll surely enjoy the experience of these matches.
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