TACOMA, WA— While the Tacoma Stars prepare for their first full season in the Major Arena Soccer League, another indoor soccer group is also organizing for its upcoming campaign. The Western Indoor Soccer League (WISL) was launched in 2014 as an elite amateur indoor league for the region. The WISL is coming back and there could be nearly twice as many clubs competing this season.
“Last season went really well,” says WISL Commissioner John Crouch. “We met our goals of providing a solid league with organized clubs, great matches and a high level of play.” The WISL also began a working relationship with local indoor soccer referees. The season culminated in February with a sell-out crowd at the Tacoma Soccer Center cheering a Tacoma Stars league title.
The WISL has been contacted by indoor clubs around the western half of the United States, including California, Colorado and Arizona. There is always an option to grow the league beyond the Northwest, but as things stand right now, a total of nine clubs are either confirmed or in some stage of talks to make up this year’s lineup.
|Bellingham United||Oly Town Artesians||Seattle Sporting|
|Olympic Force||Wenatchee Fire||Snohomish Skyhawks|
|Tacoma Stars Reserves||Burnaby Titans|
The Tacoma Stars will return to defend their WISL crown with a team they will call their “Reserves.” The runner-up team from last season, Bellingham United, is also back. Two new clubs make up the rest of the “confirmed” four: the Olympic Force (2014-15 PASL NW Champions) and Vancouver Victory. The Stars Reserves will play out of the Tacoma Soccer Center. Bellingham United will play out of the Bellingham Sportsplex. The Olympic Force will call the Olympic Sports Center home. Vancouver Victory are planning to play out of Salmon Creek Indoor Sports.
Two more clubs are “expected” but not confirmed. The Oly Town Artesians await final approval from the WISL on a venue to host their home matches. The Wenatchee Fire are expected to continue their long run of indoor seasons. The Arlington Aviators will not return after their home venue was shuttered.
There are still plenty of moving pieces for the WISL. The league would prefer to have completed its list of teams by now. “We are still working with a few clubs to finalize,” says Crouch. “Our goal as a league is always to prepare as soon as we can for our seasons. This gives the clubs a chance to promote matches and take care of other details. We still have about seven or eight weeks before the season starts, and we also have a few clubs left to confirm. It’s not ideal, but that’s the reality of it. We know a lot of people are looking forward to the new season.”
Three clubs that have played in the PASL (Premier Arena Soccer League) have shown interest in joining the WISL. Those clubs are Seattle Sporting, the Snohomish Skyhawks and the Burnaby Titans (BC.) Crouch describes league talks with these clubs as in their beginning stages. “We could have room for all three of them,” Crouch says. “It would take some realignment (possibly divisions) and the American clubs being OK with traveling across the border, but we are up for it if that is how things work out.”
It’s also possible that the former Arlington Aviators might work with one of the other teams (Sporting, Skyhawks) that also played in Snohomish County last year in the PASL, and combine players or even operations.
“The Pro Tacoma Stars are fully behind the WISL,” says Crouch, who is the MASL Stars’ VP of Business Development. “This means WISL clubs will have contact with the pro side, helping players and connecting with people who make indoor soccer go in our region.”