power rankings: what we make of the mammoth NPSL north

Y’all, this conference is going to be pretty exciting

It was already a pretty high-powered league, led by the crows at MPLS City and bolstered by quality clubs like Duluth FC and Med City FC.

Now, there’s more to look forward to, with new blood in well-respected Joy St. Louis Park, as well as new ownership at South Dakotan club Sioux Falls Thunder.

The NPSL is very excited to see the new owners take over the Thunder, especially given the new GM has 19 years of soccer coaching experience.

All this being said, let’s see what smallworld expects the NPSL North to look like at the end of the summer.

8. La Crosse Aris – you could look at Aris and say their 10 years of NPSL history is commendable. You could also look at the fact that their best finish across all those years was 4th place and came four years ago, though, and realistically, it’s hard to see much changing. A dead-last finish is their destiny this year, a repeat of the previous three seasons.

7. Dakota Fusion – it’s exciting to see lower-league soccer in states like North Dakota, but that’s recently where the excitement has stopped for Fusion. Their maiden voyage in 2017 produced a 2nd place finish, but they haven’t seen the top half of the table since then and have trended downwards every single year. That’s not to say they can’t turn their fortunes around this year, but it would take something special for them to compete with the powerhouses on display in 2021.

6. Joy St. Louis Park – smallworld is really excited about the addition of Joy, given how unique of a program they are. The team will be an extension of the youth system characterized by affordable teams for kids and an old-fashioned open play system. It’ll be interesting to see what they’re able to do on the NPSL stage in year one. That doesn’t exactly translate to expectations of success in such a competitive group, though, as it might be tough sledding against the heavyweights in Joy’s freshman year. We’ll be pulling for them, though!

5. Minnesota TwinStars – made famous by the “technical difficulties” rivalry with below-mentioned Minneapolis City, the TwinStars seem due for an off-year. They have a good reputation for quality on the field, but I see at least one surprise flop from the division’s top teams, and for me, the TwinStars are most likely to underperform.

4. Sioux Falls Thunder – this is a division with two very clear tiers, and Sioux Falls was towards the bottom of the lower one last year. I don’t know that expecting them to jump into the first tier is super reasonable, but they might just be good enough to find their way to the top of that second one. They could very well be double digits outside the top three inn points and still find themselves in fourth at season’s end.

3. Med City – they may not have the social media prowess and name recognition of the two clubs listed above them, but they’re right there in terms of quality on the pitch. I expect them to give every single club in the league a good game and be right in the title conversation at year’s end, just like they always have.

2. Duluth FC – pretty big fans of Duluth over here at smallworld. Their story is quirky and cool and their fanbase is the envy of many in the division and the entire grassroots soccer community. There’s a lot to like on the field as well, and they can be expected to challenge fiercely for the NPSL North championship and potentially even beyond that. It’ll all start with how they handle the team just ahead of them, though…

1. Minneapolis City – the beloved Crows are untouchable. They’ll be repeat winners again this year, powered by the core group that a club like them is likely to return from 2019. Even more support from the youth ranks can be expected now that the club have developed a murder of young talent in their new Mpls City Futures league. Excited to see how far the Crows can go on a national level!

Let me know what you think the final table will be this summer! Should be a great conference to follow in 2021.

Stay weird and support local soccer!


Danny Kotula

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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