Worlds Collide: UPSL and NPSL
We all know that UPSL and NPSL have been at odds over the last few years concerning a variety of things. I’ve heard both sides and I’m not choosing one side or the other in this argument. However, I got an idea one night that could potentially bridge the divide that separates the two leagues. Before I go any further, I want everyone to know that I don’t think it will happen any time soon. I am merely putting forth an idea that could be run with in the future.
Now that I have the pretext out of the way, it’s time for the presentation of this idea. My idea is borderline crazy, but it makes sense. Why not have some of the more successful or stable clubs move up from UPSL to NPSL, while maintaining a reserve side in UPSL? I know this will cause some disdain on the UPSL side because it looks like I’m trying to weaken UPSL. That’s not the case at all. Rather, I am trying to strengthen both leagues by laying the groundwork to bringing promotion and relegation to the level they are at. I know that promotion and relegation are dirty little buzz words in a lot of soccer circles around the country, but my idea would strengthen both leagues, while also providing a more stable base for a future pyramid realignment.
Initially, I was going to do a national top ten of clubs that I feel could make the move and continue to be successful. Instead, I’m going to focus on one region at a time and talk about anywhere from three to five clubs that could make the jump in each region. These picks aren’t based on whether they have the money to move up and sustain themselves or whether they have the fan base to do so. It is purely based on what I’ve seen from these clubs over the last few years. Naturally, I feel that starting in the Southeast makes the most sense. I say this because I live in Florida and have better access to some of these teams compared to others, even though social media is a huge help. So, without further ado, let’s get in to my initial list.
Florida Soccer Soldiers
This seems like a darling pick and I wouldn’t disagree with people saying I’m picking the flavor of the week with this club, but there’s something about this plucky little club from Miami that piques my interest. They’ve made one hell of a run in the US Open Cup so far, knocking off last year’s NPSL champions (Miami FC) and a USL Championship team (Charlotte Independence) so far. Additionally, they are tearing up in UPSL at the moment, sporting a record of 7W-0D-1L and a goal differential of +21. While they recently were asking for donations to ensure their players had the proper footwear, I still feel like given the right circumstances, they could make noise in NPSL.
Soda City FC
While the name of the club is certainly a draw here, I feel that they’ve shown me enough over the last two UPSL seasons to warrant a move to NPSL. They seem to have a solid base of fans and have been slowly building their brand the right way. Currently, they sit atop their division at 6W-1D-1L with a +20 goal differential. Obviously they have the talent, but would it translate to the NPSL? I feel that it could. Granted, it would be tough going at first, but I wouldn’t put it past them to make some waves should they decide to make the move up.
Savannah Clovers FC
What can I say about this club that hasn’t been said before? Initially, I was skeptical about their success, but they’ve shown me they are solid with their social media accounts, even though the results this year don’t paint them in a good light. While they sit at the bottom of their UPSL division, I feel that with the right plans set in motion and the right players, they could at least make their presence known in the NPSL.
Lowcountry United FC
I hold these guys close to my heart due to them overcoming some big hurdles a few seasons ago. The guys that were in the team welcomed me in and thanked me for the coverage I provided on Twitter for their loved ones and their families. While they took a season off from UPSL and currently sit fourth in their division, what Alan has done to this point has been nothing short of amazing. This club would be a wonderful addition and could be a breath of fresh air to a division currently dominated by Chattanooga FC.
World Class Premier
While the name doesn’t exactly strike fear into opposing clubs, this club is dominating the Mid-Atlantic North Division this year. I concede that I don’t know much about this club and I’m merely basing this pick off of their record this season (9W-0D-1L), but there are some crazy names in NPSL, so why not add another?
I know a few of these picks are going to be massacred by those of you who faithfully read the articles on Protagonist but that’s okay. Next week, I will turn my attention to the Northeast, where there is a lot of competition for spots on my list. I’ll do my damnedest not to include the non-UPSL clubs in the region, just so I can keep things fair and equal. However, if this turns in to something positive and well received, then maybe I’ll take another whip around the country and go even deeper down in to the lower leagues. All I have to say is stay tuned.
- Shawn Laird