Welcome to the State of the EPLWA, a weekly update that will be posted early in the week during the regular season. See previous editions here.
Week Five was a topsy-turvy one with clubs currently in the lower part of the table making their point that the season is still young and on any day any of them can pick up standings points.
The EPLWA table is crowded at the top, has two clubs in the middle and is crowded again at the bottom. These are early days in this league and Seattle, Wenatchee and WestSound are more than happy to remind followers that a slow start doesn’t mean much more than just that. All of the eight clubs have at least one standings point after Seattle drew with Yakima and Wenatchee beat Yakima. Meanwhile WestSound FC drew 1-1 at home against current leaders Bellingham.
The coming week is a big one as once again five matches will be played. Last week Yakima and Wenatchee played two games each. This weekend that task belongs to WestSound and Bellingham. The Hammers will try to fight off their nearest chasers with matches at Vancouver and the next day at South Sound. WestSound FC hits the road for Yakima and Spokane. Seattle travels to Wenatchee.
The “first time” honors keep coming, and last weekend Mikey Ramos became the first player in EPLWA history to score a hat trick. The Shadow needed all three of his scores in a 3-2 final at Wenatchee.
Last week saw the first ever tie, and this week there were two more. There were 20 goals scored in the weekend’s five matches.
The Hammers have led the league for a month. Now they have the challenge of backing that up with away matches against their two closest competitors. It’s a back-to-back weekend as Bellingham travels to Vancouver to face the third place Victory on Saturday May 31 at 2 PM. 24 hours later they will be in Lakewood to play the second place South Sound FC at 2 PM. It will be the second double-match road swing for the Hammers. You might remember the club beat Spokane and Wenatchee on such a trip earlier this season. When the trip is over the Hammers will have already played five of their seven away contests. The second half of the season sees them at home most of the time.
There is optimism in the Seattle camp after they got their first point in league play with a 2-2 home tie against Yakima. It was 2-0 Seattle and looking good for the Stars but they couldn’t keep the advantage. However they are at least off the mark, and did score their first two home goals of the season after being shutout over the previous two weeks at Starfire. It’s only upward for the Stars, who can help themselves out in that direction when they travel to Wenatchee on Sunday June 4. Welton Melo scored his second goal against Yakima.
The Stars played as a combined squad on Monday in a Memorial Day Tournament at Starfire.
The Shock are one goalkeeper mistake away from being a perfect 5-0-0 and in first place. The play is a distant memory for the guys, based on the way they handled Vancouver last Saturday. Introduced into the lineup was Tacoma native and former MLS player Joey Gjertsen. He made an instant impact with a goal. It was 3-0 Shock at the break and eventually finished 4-1. The three points put South Sound in a first place tie with Bellingham, broken by the Hammers’ better goal differential. The Shock are in the midst of a long homestand, and while Sunday’s contest with BUFC isn’t a “must win,” they know that the road beckons in the season’s second half.
The Shadow might have mixed feelings about heading home. They’ve jumped up the table using three straight away matches to take seven of nine points. The Lilac City side will look for their first home win at Spokane Falls CC Stadium on Saturday May 31 when they host WestSound FC. The Shadow beat the Silverdale gang 3-0 away recently.
Speaking of three, Mikey Ramos made history with the league’s first hat trick against Wenatchee. He’s tied for the lead in goals with five. The Spokane native is making waves in the new circuit after spending time in college at Walla Walla CC and then Seattle University.
The Victory lost by three goals for the first time ever last week at South Sound. That came after the club had reeled off four straight wins, the longest winning streak in the league so far. No time to fret as here come the Hammers of Bellingham this weekend for a visit to McKenzie Stadium Saturday May 31 at 2 PM. Vancouver and Bellingham are the two top-scoring clubs in the EPLWA, both with 14 goals so far. They met back in late April in Bellingham in a match the Hammers took, 2-0.
The Victory have three players in the top six in the league in scoring, each with three goals so far.
Wenatchee United switched to their alternate kit and made history in the process. The green and white Jomas have gotten pretty good reviews, but the club was 0-4-0 wearing them. So on Sunday against Yakima they put on some yellow and black, and then went out and beat the Hoppers 3-1.
Joel Villa had a great weekend for the Capitals, scoring twice and also assisting.
Now WUFC will try to build on their win when they host Seattle Stars FC on Sunday at 4 PM. The Apple Bowl is going into shut-down mode for field mainenance so the club is forced to move their home matches to Wenatchee Valley CC. Fans should come prepared with lawn chairs and blankets.
It’s time to give the Men of Silverdale more credit. At least that is what we are hearing from them via social media. The numbers are a tough sell for a team that is 1-3-1 and has been outscored 10-2.
There’s more to the story, though. WestSound has played five matches, all against just the current top four in the table. They have taken four of six points from leaders Bellingham United. Now the Silverdale side starts playing other clubs closer to them in the standings. After Sunday’s 1-1 draw against the Hammers this website labeled WSFC their “bogey team.” It could still be true.
Now though WestSound has a chance to show they can get results elsewhere. Here comes a big challenge: back-to-back matches Friday at Yakima and Saturday at Spokane.
That didn’t go so well. The Hoppers had visions of points as they took to the road for matches in Seattle and Yakima. They are coming home with a single one to show for their efforts after a draw and a loss knocks them back a bit to fifth in the table.
YUFC remains a fun team to watch. Hector Valdovinos and Junior Garcia are tied for the league lead in goals with five each along with Spokane’s Mikey Ramos.
The three matches away were all competitive, but after the 5-4 loss to Vancouver in the “Instant Classic,” and this weekend’s slim pickings, the Hoppers will certainly be looking to get back on track when they host WestSound Friday May 30.