NPSL North Conference Schedule Released

by on 1 February 2017

The NPSL Midwest Region’s North Conference released its schedule today. The North, which includes a pair of holdovers from the old Central Conference, features six clubs new to the NPSL — two of which have yet to take the field in a competitive match in any context.

Three of the North’s teams are located in the Twin Cities, two are in the Dakotas, and a pair are found a little over an hour’s trip apart by road in Southern Minnesota/Western Wisconsin.

At time of publication, the NPSL’s official website had yet to publish the North Conference’s full schedule, though individual clubs have released their schedules. With an eye toward local rivalries the new conference will hopefully generate, a rundown of notable games follows.

Twin Cities derbies

Minnesota TwinStars FC has been playing in the Midwest Region since 2005. The now-defunct Minnesota Kings NPSL side that played in St. Michael, Minn. offered the TwinStars a local rival during the 2010 and 2011 seasons and the presently on-hiatus Minnesota United Reserves did so in 2014 and 2015.

Now, the recent rebranding of the Central Conference and the introduction of six new teams has provided the TwinStars with a pair of intra-metro opponents.

Regular FiftyFive.One readers will already be familiar with Minneapolis City SC. The supporter-funded, nonprofit club left the Premier League of America following the club’s inaugural season, joining the NPSL in December. The Crows cited travel costs and the goal of developing local rivalries as their impetus for the move. Expectations are high for Minneapolis, as the club has returned a number of players from its 2016 squad that held its own against historic amateur sides like the Milwaukee Bavarians and the Croatian Eagles (Franklin, Wis.). Additionally, the Crows have added a pair of former professionals to their ranks this offseason in Brian Kallman and Dan O’Brien.

The third Twin Cities club in the conference is St. Paul’s Viejos Son Los Trapos FC. After winning the Minnesota Amateur Soccer League’s second division last season with a record of 13-2-3 and a plus-32 goal differential, los Trapos opted to make the jump to the NPSL. Of particular interest as far as budding rivalries may be concerned, VSLT FC president Juan Fiz was named to the 2007 and 2008 NPSL All-Star Teams while playing for the TwinStars and was a key member of the Dragons team that finished national runners-up in 2008.

Viejos Son Los Trapos FC vs. Minneapolis City SC — May 13, 3:00 p.m.
James Griffin Stadium, St. Paul

Minnesota TwinStars FC vs. Viejos Son Los Trapos FC — May 20, TBD
Hopkins High School, Minnetonka, Minn.*

Minnesota TwinStars FC vs. Minneapolis City SC — June 14, TBD
Hopkins High School, Minnetonka, Minn.*

Minneapolis City SC vs. Viejos Son Los Trapos FC — June 17, 6:00 p.m.
Edor Nelson Athletic Field, Minneapolis

Viejos Son Los Trapos FC vs. Minnesota TwinStars FC — June 25, 7:00 p.m.
James Griffin Stadium, St. Paul

Minneapolis City SC vs. Minnesota TwinStars FC — July 12, 7:00 p.m.
Edor Nelson Athletic Field, Minneapolis

*Provisional Location

Dakotas derbies

The two westernmost teams in the North Conference are separated by roughly 250 miles, which may seem odd tinder for a rivalry. However, with the death of FC Fargo, whichever of Dakota Fusion FC and Sioux Falls Thunder FC betters the other can stake a legitimate claim towards being the best soccer team in the Dakotas.

The Fusion, based out of Fargo, N.D., went 4-2 over an exhibition schedule that paired them against members of the now-defunct American Premier League. Of note, Dakota suffered a 4-2 defeat at home against fellow NPSL-newcomer Duluth FC.

Little has been written about the Thunder, having been founded late this past year in advance of an expansion bid to join the NPSL. The club is presently the biggest unknown heading into the 2017 season.

Sioux Falls Thunder FC vs. Dakota Fusion FC — May 13, 7:00 p.m.
University of Sioux Falls Sports Complex, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Dakota Fusion FC vs. Sioux Falls FC — June 17, 7:00 p.m. 
Jim Gotta Stadium, Moorehead, Minn.

I-90 derbies

Airs SC, which once called Eau Claire, Wis. home and how plays in La Crosse, has had a rough go of it in the NPSL over the past few years. The Airs have been a member of the Midwest Region since 2009 (though the team took a year-long hiatus in 2015) and have compiled a 3-6-60 record over seven NPSL seasons.

Across the Mississippi, recently-founded Med City FC will launch its inaugural campaign in Rochester, Minn.

The two clubs are holding joint tryouts later this month and it will be interesting to see what kind of rivalry proximity and familiarity can breed.

Med City FC vs. La Crosse Airs SC — May 13, 7:00 p.m.
Rochester Regional Stadium, Rochester, Minn.

La Crosse Airs SC vs. Med City FC — June 17, 7:00 p.m.
Viterbo Sports Complex , La Crosse, Wis.

“Duluth is wonderful”

Duluth FC lacks an obvious local rival. An interesting note, looking at the the Blue Greens’ schedule, is that the team does not play their home opener until Week Six, on June 10, and all seven of Duluth’s regular-season home games fall within a 36-day span ending on July 15. With the North Shore a favorite summer destination for Minnesotans, the Blue Greens seem well positioned to attract a few spectators from the southern half of the state.

Of particular note, the Blue Greens host the Dragons the evening of June 17, with Grandma’s Marathon scheduled earlier that morning, should anyone fancy a Minnesota sports double header.

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