power rankings: NISA fall season, week 1

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Mkay so technically it’s week 2, but there was only one match in week 1, so we’re just going to call the last two weeks week 1 collectively.

We haven’t had a power rankings episode in a while, but as NISA opens up its regular season, it’s high time to bring it back!

Coming off of some positive momentum and quality viewership numbers from their Independent Cup, it figures to be an exciting time for NISA as they navigate a shortened fall season.

The two-sided conference structure remains from last year, but it will be lopsided as far as the number of teams.

The Western Conference will feature well-branded and community-based Oakland Roots; defending Western champions Cal United Strikers; and the club they had to beat to earn that title, LA Force.

It’s a small conference and will feature just two games for each club, but given the quality of each of these sides, it won’t be lacking for excitement and watchability!

Let’s take a look at the power rankings before the season gets under way on the West Coast.

  1. LA Force: The Force were competitive throughout the season last fall, and they came a couple of penalty kicks away from being crowned Western Conference champions. I fully expect them to be competitive once again, and this time, fortune will favor them.
  2. Cal United Strikers: Maybe the Force were unlucky to lose out on the title last year, but that’s not to say the Strikers didn’t equally deserve it. Cal United will pose a significant threat, and the Force-Strikers rematch will be one in particular to keep an eye on.
  3. Oakland Roots: The Roots are in very competitive company, but smallworld has a very positive opinion of everything the Roots have been up to. They’ll be in the hunt here, and it wouldn’t necessarily be a surprise to watch them swoop in and snag the championship from the grasp of their opposition, but it won’t be an easy task.

The action will kick off when the aforementioned LA Force v Cal Unted battle takes place in Los Angeles on August 29. It should be available on both myCujoo and the NISA website.

Moving over to the Eastern Conference, there’s a lot more to consider when trying to rank this group of clubs.

The five teams in the Eastern Conference for fall 2020 are southern belles of grassroots soccer Chattanooga FC; the only team to upend them in last year’s expansion rankings, Detroit City FC; little-known upstarts Michigan Stars FC; brand-new club from the Boroughs with boundless ambition New Amsterdam FC; and storied club attempting a return to glory New York Cosmos.

That’s a really quality lineup, one that gets me excited about following almost every single one of those teams. But here’s the only problem with predictions for this group: none of them have completed a NISA season yet.

The Stars failed to impress in their limited Spring 2020 run, losing two out of two matches. Detroit and Chattanooga got their professional lives under way in a similar timeframe, losing all their spring matches but one. New York and New Amsterdam haven’t played an official NISA match yet.

So essentially, this entire conference is one big question mark. To make matters even more confusing, New Amsterdam lost 3-0 to amateur side FC Baltimore Christos in the Independent Cup, and Michigan got a surprise victory over Chattanooga to kick off the season.

That wasn’t a fluke, either, as this full weekend of matches has just shown us.

Chattanooga avenged their loss to the Stars with a really positive 2-0 win over rivals Detroit City, and Michigan stayed unbeaten with a draw against the Cosmos.

All that points to the Stars being the team to beat as of now. And to be honest, that’s a bit of a shock to the author. I did not exactly see this coming, as I discussed with Cade Summers of River Town FC on smallworld soccer report this weekend.

All that is a precursor to a very odd power ranking in the East, but one that I feel is accurate thus far. Also, just to be clear and because I hate people who don’t clarify this, records in parentheses indicate wins, then losses, then draws. You’re welcome. Without further ado, here it is:

  1. Michigan Stars (4 pts, 1-0-1): can’t argue with results; they look like a brand new team.
  2. Chattanooga FC (3 pts, 1-1-0): very strong opener that sets the tone early against a quality Detroit City side.
  3. New York Cosmos (1 pt, 0-0-1): the way it’s looking, an opening day draw against Michigan is much more valuable than it would have been last year.
  4. Detroit City FC (0 pts, 0-1-0): not a successful outing against their southern counterparts, but that’s not to say they won’t still play their way back into the mix.
  5. New Amsterdam FC (0 pts, 0-0-0): confidence level for them is low until proven otherwise after a lackluster Independent Cup performance.

What we should really take away from these first few matches is that the NISA season promises some exciting, closely-matched lower-league soccer at the professional level, something to be very grateful for in our current nationwide crisis.

Of course, differing opinions on the rankings will abound, so be sure to make them known in the comments, via Twitter, or by contacting me directly!

Stay weird and support local soccer!




By danny kotula

danny kotula is an aspiring sports writer and play-by-play commentator. unfortunately, he is not good at either one. his interests include watching soccer and listening to obscure music genres, and those aren’t even his most boring ones. he was born in Tacoma, Washington but has called South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, California, Georgia, and Costa Rica home over the course of his life. he generally knows where to put a comma, which is by far his most redeeming quality. he is writing this in third person as if he were famous enough for someone to write him a biography, but don’t be fooled. he’s not famous.

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