The Evergreen Premier League (EPLWA) kicks off its inaugural season this weekend with matches in Yakima, Bellingham and Silverdale. The elite men’s soccer league was formed in the summer of 2013. Less than a year later hundreds of soccer folks from around Washington have organized eight clubs and a new league to showcase local talent and give supporters in towns across the state a home club to cheer for.
EPLWA.com has a club-by-club look at recent news here.
Who will WIN the EPLWA in 2014? Vote here.
Yakima United FC v. Seattle Stars FC
Saturday April 26, 6 PM Marquette Stadium, Yakima
Yakima United FC has the privilege of hosting the first-ever EPLWA match this Saturday at 6 PM against Seattle Stars FC at Marquette Stadium. It’s a new era for soccer in the Yakima Valley, as well as a new start for United. The Yakima Reds had the longest run of any Washington pro or semi-pro club ever when they went 16 seasons in the USL from 1995-2010.
This pre-season the Hoppers have played Alianza Tri-Cities to a 2-2 draw and topped the Nampa Idaho All-Stars 3-2 last Saturday.
The Hoppers roster looks to be a unique blend of local veteran talent, including a few former Reds, college players, and new youth discoveries.
“We want to provide an exciting match day experience for our fans, and we’re still working on a few things to help implement this,” GM Joshua Vega recently told goalWA.net. “One thing we’re really excited about is our plan to offer an official club membership. Aside from a traditional season ticket package which we will offer, our fans will have the opportunity to purchase a membership package that will give them multiple perks including some member-exclusive products, discounts, and access to club events that may not be available to others. It’s really exciting and we hope it will help our supporters feel a real ownership and connection to everything that is going on with YUFC.”
Seattle Stars FC have the honor —and task—of helping open the league when they travel to Yakima on Saturday April 26th. The Stars and Hoppers are very familiar with each other. They used to meet in the American National Soccer League (ANSL) Washington Division. In 2011 they faced off for that division’s title. Seattle has publicized just one pre-season match. That turned out to be a 3-0 loss in Bremerton to the Kitsap Pumas.
The Stars won the Fall 2013 Starfire Premier League, but since then have been fending off defections of players who have moved on to Seattle’s two NPSL clubs. One might think that year-round play would give Seattle some kind of advantage entering into EPLWA competition. That’s possible, but the new faces on the Stars roster might counteract any advantage.
The Stars have played a few friendlies, including one in late March against a Gambian-infused side.
The club is also proud that their year-round status isn’t interrupted—even by a little snow.
Head Coach Alex Kajumulo is one of the most energetic, creative people in Northwest soccer. He has his hand in multiple events, charities and causes. He’s also a performer.
Bellingham United FC v. Vancouver Victory FC
Sunday April 27, 3 PM, Civic Stadium, Bellingham
BELLINGHAM UNITED FC
The Hammers open their 2014 EPLWA season on Sunday April 27 when they host the Vancouver Victory at Civic Stadium at 3 PM. During the off-season Vancouver owner Barrett Goddard made a trip to Bellingham to learn more about the Hammers’ successful operations. This time he will be bringing a roster of players north with him.
The Hammers have played three announced pre-season matches. They fell 2-1 at Seattle Sporting FC of the NPSL, 6-1 at Kitsap Pumas of the PDL, and 2-1 at Western Washington University’s Vikings last Friday night. While they of course would have preferred to win these matches, the losses are tempered with the knowledge that Bellingham will have college players joining them as of May 1st.
Getting valuable time to know his new team is forward Carlos Betancourt. When goalWA.net did a feature on Carlos earlier this year he was playing with Seattle Stars FC. Since then Carlos has transferred over to Bellingham United. He scored a pre-season goal against the Kitsap Pumas. Betancourt and veterans such as Sean Connor and Joel Grossman will be important factors in the Hammers home opener.
Our partners over at goalWA.net have noted that the Hammers have a very tough early schedule, with most of their matches away.
The Victory are getting ready to travel up I-5 to play Bellingham United FC on Sunday April 27 in the Hammers home opener at 3 PM in Civic Stadium. In recent days V2FC have played pre-season friendlies and announced a major sponsor.
Vancouver is getting great pre-season play from striker Borce (pronounced Bor-chay) Atanasov, who has hat tricks in both his appearances. He scored three against Everett United in as 4-2 Vancouver win and another three (in the first half) against Portland Community College in a 6-1 V2FC triumph last Saturday.
The Victory scored big when they confirmed Muchias Gracias Mexican Food as a two-year shirt sponsor. The Southwest Washington – Northwest Oregon chain immediately found a place on the custom V2FC kits.
Bellingham fans could have some competition in the stands for noise and color. The Vanguard is planning to bring some supporters up for Sunday’s opener.
WestSound FC v. South Sound FC
Sunday April 27, 4 PM Silverdale Stadium, Silverdale
It’s been a hectic spring for the youth club that the WestSound FC Men are attached to. WSFC has confirmed a merger with a handful of other Kitsap youth clubs. Meanwhile the men’s side has gathered the best amateur talent in the area as they prepare to host South Sound FC on Sunday April 27 at 4 PM in Silverdale Stadium.
The WestSound Men have played just one announced pre-season match, a 1-0 loss to Evergreen State University on April 5th.
Last summer WestSound played a schedule of friendlies as they were applying to join the EPLWA. They saw action against Bellingham United and South Sound during that stretch. This year they will be up against the top talent that both of those sides can muster.
Silverdale Stadium is just 30 seconds by car from Gordon Field, home of the Kitsap Pumas of the PDL.
South Sound Football Club played the Sounders Academy last weekend at Starfire and battled well in an eventual 3-2 defeat. Previously in pre-season the Shock had played to a 2-2 draw at Gorge FC (NPSL) and beaten Yamhill County Crew 5-2. The match against the Sounders featured midfielder Daniel Gray, who would be a big help to the SSFC chances if he’s onboard for the EPLWA campaign. Gray has previous experience with Tacoma Tide FC, a former PDL side that is now the Sounders U-23.
South Sound opens their season Sunday April 27 when they make the short drive to Bremerton to tangle with WestSound FC at 4 PM in Silverdale Stadium. The SSFC fixture list includes an early five-match homestand where the side will need to get on a roll.
The Shock play indoors during the winter, but also compete in the USASA U-23 Nationals. They have made the semifinals two years running. With a younger squad it isn’t a stretch to assume the club might be fitter than some. We’ll see if that plays to their advantage.
South Sound announced this week that Doyle’s Public House will be their official pub partner. Earlier they secured the Tacoma Soccer Center as their shirt sponsor.
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