The Wash: Branding changes, media mistakes plague Washington’s lone NPSL club

The Wash: Branding changes, media mistakes plague Washington’s lone NPSL club

thewash2014banner

The Wash is David Falk’s take on the world of soccer in The WA.

Read previous columns here.

by David Falk

This isn’t an easy column to write. I have kept silent publicly about the various missteps of the Italian-owned OSA Soccer Group’s running of two “local” soccer teams. Today that silence is broken as this group releases a statement about the future of its NPSL and WPSL clubs. A series of bad choices and lack of understanding of the Puget Sound soccer community and market has virtually assured that these two clubs will kick off 2016 with no fan bases whatsoever.

AC Seattle in the WPSL.
AC Seattle in the WPSL.

Let’s begin by granting that there are challenges in language translation along with running a website from Italy that is meant for an English-speaking audience. That still does not excuse the amount of factual errors put out by what is now called “OSA Football Club.” The latest? In the release that says they are once again a “Seattle team,” they also say “OSA Football Club’s men’s team will continue to play in the ever expanding National Premier Soccer League making OSA FC the second highest tier Club in Washington State, after the Sounders FC, whose adult men’s team plays in a league with out age limitations…” Not true on the first count. The USL Sounders 2 are the second-highest tier club in Washington. The age limitation line has me scratching my head.

This year the mistakes compounded. While operations stayed in Seattle, they officially renamed their clubs FCT 253. This name choice happened at least in part because the Sounders U23 own the rights to the name “Tacoma FC.” Further mistakes by OSA included using the Tacoma Stars logo in their promotions (without permission), announcing the “return of pro soccer in Tacoma” via their NPSL side. Luckily their misfires never hit any targets. OSA was merely using Tacoma. Now they have already left. Only the scarves remain as proof.

FC Tacoma! Or, not...
FC Tacoma! Or, not… (OSA FC Facebook)
Short-lived FCT 253.
Short-lived FCT 253.

Tacoma was never really taken to heart by the OSA group. Initially they said: “We are honored to be in the league and just as honored to be playing in Tacoma where we know soccer has a strong base and some great fans. We are especially excited about playing in the US Open Cup which is a very special tournament in Washington State.” It was just so much lip service. Soon enough OSA found out that venues are a difficult thing to come by in Tacoma. They ended up playing just one regular season home match there in 2015. They played in Seattle or Tukwila the rest of the time. As for the US Open cup, their statement is also just so much puffery.

The 2015 NPSL season saw OSA FC switch brands mid-stream. They were FCT 253, then at the end they were OSA FCT, and now they are just OSA FC, for both men and women. Along the way very few local fans have even cared about these clubs, or the various moves. Because I cover local soccer and at one time enjoyed the play of the AC Seattle women, I have watched this story. Behind the scenes a few in the Tacoma soccer community wondered how this group was operating, and if they were really dedicated to “Tacoma,” the city. Guess not.

OSA FC. 2015-?
OSA FC. 2015-?

It didn’t have to be this way. Back when they called themselves “AC Seattle” and fielded just a Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) club, there was a brief time of magic when the players were connecting with the West Seattle soccer community, playing matches at Delridge and also at Chief Sealth High School’s football stadium. They were getting press in the West Seattle Blog. Somehow no one in the OSA group seemed to see this potential. They moved home matches to Tukwila (Starfire) and lost that audience. Last season the women were FC Tacoma, though they didn’t play there.

There’s nothing wrong with the idea of starting an Italy-to-Seattle pipeline of players that includes cultural exchange opportunities. On that level OSA can be congratulated. However, the actual branding and running of clubs as “local,” for us as fans — that has hit sour note after sour note from this group.

The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) is working towards establishing itself in the Northwest. If OSA FC is their lone flagship in Washington, then things look bleak. In a few short seasons this group has moved to numerous venues, flirted with and then dumped Tacoma, and has now taken a name completely devoid of place.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “The Wash: Branding changes, media mistakes plague Washington’s lone NPSL club

  1. Aren’t Sounders and Sounders 2 part of the same club? Two teams, one club? …Or at least that’s how they pretend it to be.

    I always assumed OSA chose Tacoma to get NPSL-mandated distance between them and Inter United. When that team left the league, FCT could play wherever they wanted, despite the name.

  2. Not to mention the poor treatment and lack of honesty in communication with just about every player. They would constantly tell us how important we were to the team and then an Italian. Guy or two would show up and immediately be given the star treatment. Problem was though, that these imported players weren’t any better (and in most cases much worse) than the guys who had been showing up to every training for months. Problem is that PNW has great talent and the fans want to see people they know, not some Italian guy.

  3. As per my personal choice, I usually don’t reply to “media” attacks but this time I feel the need of clarifying some of the aspects that were brought up by Mr. David Falk.

    First of all we were referring as “club” therefore when we say after the Sounders we meant both teams. No one is out of his mind to be so arrogant and foolish to claim that we can even compete with the Sounders 1 and 2. They belong to another level of football and is unthinkable for us to compete with them and most of all it is not the goal of our organization. We would like to establish ourselves as the link between the college teams and the Sounders so to develop players who might be good to jump to the next level after playing in the NPSL.

    Second, after the Sounders we recognize the Pumas of Bremerton as the one team with the most experience and success in WA State so far.We faced them in the first round of US cup and they deservedly won the game. However is difficult to compare the NPSL league to the PDL that is based on limitation of age. That makes the league itself “limited” and not comparable to the other American leagues that allow, instead, players of any age to be enrolled.

    Third, I have to say that I am hurt by the “comments” I am reading about being “Italian”. Another goal of this organization is to create a relationship and a cultural exchange between 2 great countries. Regardless of claiming the NW division title in the NPSL and losing at overtime our play-off game, I consider our first season extremely positive especially for the following reason: At the end of it I saw a group of guys (belonging to different cultures and speaking different languages) becoming friends and establishing relationship that are beyond the football aspect. All the Italians who were here are keeping calling us to see when they can come back again as they had great time in this beautiful State playing football!!! That is what is all about! We had a great team at the end (I wish we had this team for the game of US cup) with a mix of players from USA, Italy, UK. Libia, Kenia and so forth…and again that is what is all about! Please, please don’t minimize this aspect!!!

    Fourth, I am a professional in the USA and in this country I have been taught, since the first day I arrived, to verify information before coming out with any type of statement. It would have been very appropriate for the author of this article to contact us and discuss first so to give us a chance to explain what we meant. It is good manners and most of all could have avoided some misinformation and miscommunication.

    It also occurs to me that there might be some conflict of interest in this article as Mr. David Falk is the communications director for the Evergreen Premier League which is the league that would like to compete with the NPSL in our State. I honestly think that we should not fight each other as the goal and the aim of these 2 leagues are completely different with one (EPLWA) competing at a County level and the other one (NPSL) competing at a National level and with a final that was attended by 20000 people.

    That said I think we should all work together to make football even greater in our State.There is so much passion and love for the sport that we should focus on!

    Best,
    Filippo Milano

  4. Certainly I work for a different league, and hold those clubs to similar standards. The fact remains that OSA FC has not settled into a community, but has moved around. The fact also remains that many of your press releases contain errors. Thanks for the reply. As for “good manners,” those begin at the club level with proper communication.

    If you would like goalWA to “edit” your stories before they are sent out, we can provide that service at a charge.

    Our readers are players and supporters. OSA FC might do well to consider how they can better run an operation that encourages local support and loyalty. When we see local communities being used (like Tacoma clearly was), we speak up about it. —David Falk

  5. One again Tacoma gets screwed. Thanks for that Filippo! What a wonderful cultural exchange this has been!

  6. I just ran accross this story and thought I should add a comment. OSA soccer also had a short lived relationship with Tacoma’s Nortac youth soccer. The select side of the club (Sparta) was renamed FC Tacoma. From what I hear, the relationship was a bit of a fiasco. The club has since reverted back to Nortac/Sparta branding. The changes caused a lot of confusion. It will probably take a few years for Sparta to re-establish confidence from players and parents. My kids have stuck with Nortac/Sparta, but I considered switching to WPFC. I believe the OSA vision was to establish a youth/adult club. It seems like a plan that could work well, it just wasn’t executed in Tacoma.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s