by David Falk
Have you caught your breath yet from 2014? What a year in soccer at the adult level in Washington! I covered some of that here, though there is of course so much more to talk about than just a top 5. Hopefully you were tuned into goalWA over the year and followed along.
It’s time to look ahead to 2015. In doing so some references will be made to 2014 as well. Here are some of the questions expected to be answered as 2015 rolls along.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC / MLS / USL PRO
The Sounders need to find a replacement for DeAndre Yedlin. We’ll be watching for the next young star. The front office looks to be changing. Could that mean efforts will begin for a new Sounders stadium? Meanwhile, a second fully-pro club arrives at Starfire: S2.
SEATTLE REIGN FC / NWSL
The Women’s World Cup takes place in Canada, putting the Reign schedule in a different mode. Even with the break for the WC, the Reign will still be without plenty of USA stars. How will this new shortened season affect the momentum built in 2014?
EVERGREEN PREMIER LEAGUE (EPLWA)
All 8 original clubs are scheduled to return for a second season of play in the statewide EPLWA. It’s possible one of them will be undergoing a name change. Will the success of Mike Ramos in Spokane be repeated by more players in 2015? Will attendance increase? Can the Spokane Shadow, who travel more miles than any other team, repeat? Will we see another tight race as the league keeps the table-winner format again to decide the champion? Will the fledgling league do better in pre-season friendlies against PDL clubs?
PREMIER DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE (PDL)
Can the Kitsap Pumas remain the team to beat, even as they look ahead to a possible jump to the USL-PRO? What work might the Sounders U-23’s need to do to maintain relevancy in light of the birth of S2? Which Sounders prospects still in college will come to Tacoma to boost the U-23’s? Is every club coming back? How will the arrival of Calgary Foothills FC change the dynamic of the Northwest? Will the Pumas win a fourth straight Ruffneck Cup? UPDATE: The Victoria Highlanders folded, leaving the division at 7 teams.
NATIONAL PREMIER SOCCER LEAGUE (NPSL)
How will FCT 253 (Tacoma) and Portland Spartans handle having to travel to Northern California for most of their away matches? Will new clubs and owners come out of the woodwork for 2016 to replace the three NW clubs the NPSL lost at the end of 2014 (Gorge FC, Seattle Sporting, Inter United FC of Tukwila)? Can FCT 253 make a mark in the Tacoma area where the EPLWA and PDL already play? UPDATE: FCT 253 won their Open Cup qualifier to advance to a play-in match.
Will the Sounders Women and Seattle Reign FC talk succesfully, and build an official relationship with each other? How far will that relationship go? Shared players? A Sounders Women rebrand? A Sounders Women move to Seattle for matches? How will the Women’s World Cup affect the W-League?
WOMEN’S PREMIER SOCCER LEAGUE (WPSL)
In the WPSL the first question is almost always “who will be back?” In 2014 Washington state had three clubs: Issaquah SC, Fuerza FC (Marysville) and AC Seattle. AC Seattle has rebranded as FCT 253 and will play in Tacoma in 2015. Is Issaquah SC Youth Club still devoted to adult soccer after club turmoil and comings and goings in 2014? UPDATE: Olympic Force (Bremerton) are joining the WPSL for 2015.
MAJOR ARENA SOCCER LEAGUE (MASL)
The clock has been ticking on Seattle Impact FC almost as long as the season has. What will become of this franchise that plays pro arena soccer in Kent? Will they return as-is for a second season? Be sold and return? Be sold, rebrand and return? Fold? Move? UPDATE: The Tacoma Stars bought out the Impact and played their final 7 MASL matches. The Stars plan to come back in the league next season.
WESTERN INDOOR SOCCER LEAGUE (WISL)
The WISL founders had hoped to start their new league with 6-8 teams. Starting with 5 appears to be a temporary issue. Will the league grow in 2015-16? It sure looks like the response is positive, and early interest is already there from new teams. Who will win the first season? Tacoma Stars are favorites – but can Bellingham United or another club pull off an upset? UPDATE: The Tacoma Stars won the WISL. New question: How many teams will the WISL have in 2015-16?
PREMIER ARENA SOCCER LEAGUE (PASL)
The Premier Arena Soccer League (PASL) Northwest Division is dealing with the aftershocks of Seattle Impact issues in the connected MASL. One of them is the Impact Premier (Reserves) forfeiting PASL matches. What is the future of this league in the NW? How will the future of the Impact affect that, if at all? Can the winner of the NW make a run at Nationals? UPDATE: The Tacoma Galaxy folded. The Olympic Force will play Seattle Sporting on Saturday for the right to go to Nationals.