National Premier Soccer League

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National Premier Soccer League
Country United States
Confederation CONCACAF
US Soccer
Founded 2003
Divisions 12
Number of teams 65
Level on pyramid 4
Promotion to None
Relegation to None
Domestic cup(s) Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
Current champions New York Cosmos B (2015)
Most championships Arizona Sahuaros
Detroit Arsenal
FC Sonic
Jacksonville United
New York Cosmos B
New York Red Bulls U-23
Pennsylvania Stoners
RVA Football Club
Sacramento Gold
Sacramento Knights
Sonoma County Sol
Southern California Fusion
Utah Salt Ratz
(1 title each)
Website NPSL website
2015 NPSL season

The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) is an American soccer league commonly recognized as being a fourth tier league.[1] It is the successor of the Men's Professional Soccer League, a regional league originally based out of the Western United States, which has now expanded nationwide to encompass teams from 29 states.

Although the league is officially affiliated to the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA), and qualifies for the U.S. Open Cup through USASA channels, the league is generally considered to be at the fourth tier of competition in the United States soccer pyramid, behind Major League Soccer (MLS), the North American Soccer League (NASL), and the United Soccer League (USL), and roughly equal with the Premier Development League (PDL).[1]

The league's motto is "A National League with a Regional Focus". Some of the clubs are former United Soccer Leagues (USL) clubs.

Competition format

The National Premier Soccer League's is divided into four separate Regions (Northeast, South, Midwest, and West). Each Region contains three or four conferences with varying number of teams per conference. The four regions generally correspond to the four USASA regions, Northeast (Region I), Midwest (Region II), South (Region III), and West (Region IV) with the exception of teams in New York Western (one team), Pennsylvania West (two teams), and Missouri (only one team). The regular season runs from May to July with the exception of the West Region that has historically started in late March or early April.[2] Most conferences play between ten and twelve games against teams within the conference, though since 2009 some conferences have played as few as eight games and as many as fourteen games. When possible, each conference follows a double round robin format allowing for a balanced schedule. Larger conferences have had unbalanced schedules due to the constraint of scheduling games within the short window. The schedule is designed to allow college students to compete during their summer break. For the playoffs, the formats vary by region and conference with the four region champions facing each other in the National Semifinals and Championship games.

National Premier Soccer League is located in USA
Locations of NPSL clubs for 2014. Blue = Northeast Region clubs, Yellow = South Region clubs, Green = Midwest Region clubs, Red = West Region clubs
v · t · e

The NPSL currently has eight automatic berths in the U.S. Open Cup where they gain eligibility towards the CONCACAF Champions League. The exact qualification format has varied over the years due to some teams passing on their opportunity to enter due to the timing of the tournament, as well as not being able to afford the risk associated with having to potentially absorb travel costs. In recent years the West Region has had a preseason qualifying tournament to determine their qualifying spot(s). To-date 20 different NPSL clubs have qualified for the U.S. Open Cup, and in 2014 two clubs, Brooklyn Italians and Chattanooga FC, made it to the third round (having been seeded in the second round), the farthest any NPSL team has advanced.


The National Premier Soccer League began in 2003 as the Men's Professional Soccer League (MPSL) initially as an offshoot of the Women's Premier Soccer League, and marked the first instance of a women's soccer league spawning a men's league. The league's first two champions were the Arizona Sahuaros, who had defected to the MPSL from the USL D-3 Pro League, and the Utah Salt Ratz.

The league expanded into the Midwest in 2005 with the addition of several new teams and a new conference, and changed its name to National Premier Soccer League to reflect its new national footprint; a team from the expansion conference – Detroit Arsenal – won the league in its first year after its eastward expansion. The NPSL expanded further in 2007 with the addition of a new Northeast Conference and five new teams from the eastern United States. The first team from the East to win the national NPSL title was the Pennsylvania Stoners in 2008. The league has since continued to expand, adding more teams throughout the entirety of the country.

Since its inception the league has managed to place at least one team actively playing under its banner into U.S. Open Cup competition. Though the showing of the NPSL in US Open Cup play was typically only one or two teams in its first six years, the 2009 and 2010 cups have seen four and three, respectively, NPSL teams in each tournament. The recent success of the NPSL in USASA qualifying has encouraged a movement by which the league could have automatic berths in the final tournament.[3] The furthest a team from the NPSL has reached in the US Open Cup during the professional era (1997 and onward after the entry of MLS teams) has been the third round. However, the Brooklyn Italians have won the US Open Cup outright before the existence of either MLS or the NPSL.

As the league has continued to grow it has become a place for professional teams to place reserve or development squads. Though no formal agreement exists with other leagues in the U.S., the league is home to two squads representing NASL teams: Carolina RailHawks U-23's and New York Cosmos B.[4]


Officially the USSF does not recognize formal levels of the soccer pyramid below the professional 3rd Division. The USSF does not officially recognize distinctions between amateur soccer leagues in the United States. However, the USASA sanctions affiliated, but separately run, national leagues that are recognized in practical terms as playing at a higher level than the USASA state association leagues; for example, they receive automatic berths to the US Open Cup.[1]

The USL Premier Development League takes place during the summer months, and the player pool is drawn mainly from NCAA college soccer players seeking to continue playing high level soccer during their summer break, while still maintaining their college eligibility. The National Premier Soccer League is similar to the USL Premier Development League and also attracts top amateur talent from around the United States. NPSL does not have any age limits or restrictions, thus incorporating both college players and former professional players alike. The NPSL is sometimes referred to as a semi-professional league since some clubs opt to pay small salaries to players that are willing to forgo their amateur status.


The NPSL is organized in a mostly decentralized structure and is managed as a team-run league. Each year the member clubs help elect a chairman, treasurer, and secretary and an eight-member Board of Directors. Each team is individually owned and operated, and is responsible for maintaining league minimum standards. New teams seeking membership into the NPSL are subject to approval from an executive committee of existing team owners. Member clubs have the right to make localized decisions for their respective markets, conferences, and regions based on what they believe is best for their particular region. Each conference is managed by the individual member clubs and elect a conference commission each year.

The current chairman is Joe Barone of the Brooklyn Italians who was elected in late 2013 after previously serving as treasurer. Michael Hitchcock of Playbook Management Inc. was hired as commissioner of the NPSL in 2013. With Hitchcock leading the league, plans to expand the reach of the league and discussion of introducing promotion and relegation in the future were made public. Near the conclusion of the 2014 season the NPSL terminated the contract of Hitchcock and PMI.

The costs to join the league as of 2013 are reported to be a one-time $10,000 franchise fee and a $3,500 annual league fee.[5] Those fees have doubled since 2007 when the franchise fee was only $5,000 with the annual league fee at only $1,800.[6] The low entry fee compared to the PDL's of $75,000 has made the league an attractive alternative to teams looking to compete at the highest level of amateur play.

The league requires that all teams play in stadiums with at least 500 seats, a scoreboard, and locker rooms with showers for both teams and officials. The home team is also responsible for providing water and food for the visiting team, ensuring there is a trainer or doctor on-site for the match, and paying the referees fees at the end of each game ($275).[7]

Sponsorship and partnerships

Mitre Sports International will provide the official ball for the NPSL starting in 2014, the sponsorship agreement will last through the 2016 season.[7][8] The league has also announced several partnerships for the 2014 season, Global Scarves, Wecando, and Pabian Law. Global Scarves and the NPSL plan on strategically partnering to not only outfit every NPSL team with soccer scarves branded to the specific team, but plan on working together to increase and elevate the status of both entities to a higher level. Global Scarves will begin providing custom soccer scarves throughout the league, and will work with the NPSL on various events and contests to increase awareness and fervor throughout the 2014 NPSL season. Wecando Print is a full-service branding company that specializes in printing, promotional products, embroidery, screen printing, banners, fulfillment services, and company stores. Pabian Law specific in law and immigration services and has experience with signing international soccer players.[9]


On hiatus


The following expansion clubs have been announced for the 2016 NPSL Season:

Year # of Teams Teams Added Teams Departed
2003 6 0 0
2004 10 5 1
2005 13 7 4
2006 18 5 0
2007 22 12 8
2008 24 10 8
2009 27 10 7
2010 31 12 8
2011 37 13 7
2012 45 14 5
2013 57 17 5+2*
2014 78 32 11
2015 65 11 24


Many NPSL teams have rivalries given the close geography of the teams throughout the league. The most notable rivalry is the Rust Belt Derby contested between Detroit City FC, AFC Cleveland, and FC Buffalo. The name refers to the economic decline, population loss, and urban decay due to the shrinking of the once powerful industrial sector of these cities that each are part of the broader Rust Belt.[34]

Another intense rivalry existed between the San Diego Flash and San Diego Boca/Force FC, which were crosstown rivals. Until the 2013 sale and rebranding of Force FC from Boca FC, the ownership groups of the two clubs were previously partners in the original San Diego Flash club of the A-League that competed from 1998 to 2001.[35]

Derby Name Most Wins Titles Other Club(s) Recent winner
Erie County Derby Erie Commodores FC 5 (2009–2014) FC Buffalo Erie Commodores FC
Everglades Cup Miami United 1 (2014) Cape Coral Hurricanes Miami United
Gulf Coast Cup Tampa Marauders 1 (2014) Cape Coral Hurricanes Tampa Marauders
Red River Cup Tulsa Athletics 1 (2014) Fort Worth Vaqueros & Liverpool Warriors & Oklahoma City FC Tulsa Athletics
Rust Belt Derby Detroit City FC 3 (2013–2015) AFC Cleveland & FC Buffalo Detroit City FC
San Diego Derby San Diego Flash 4 (2011–2013) San Diego Boca/Force FC San Diego Flash
Trinity River Cup Dallas City FC 1 (2014) Fort Worth Vaqueros Dallas City FC[36]
Volunteer Shield Chattanooga FC 2 (2014–2015) Nashville FC & Knoxville Force Chattanooga FC[37]

Records and Champions

Season Winner Runner-up
2003 Arizona Sahuaros Utah Salt Ratz
2004 Utah Salt Ratz Arizona Sahuaros
2005 Detroit Arsenal Sonoma County Sol
2006 Sacramento Knights Princeton 56ers
2007 Southern California Fusion Queen City FC
2008 Pennsylvania Stoners St. Paul Twin Stars
2009 Sonoma County Sol Erie Admirals SC
2010 Sacramento Gold Chattanooga FC
2011 Jacksonville United Hollywood United Hitmen
2012 FC Sonic Chattanooga FC
2013 RVA Football Club Sonoma County Sol
2014 New York Red Bulls U-23 Chattanooga FC
2015 New York Cosmos B Chattanooga FC

Notable players with NPSL experience

Name Nationality Former NPSL Club From Notable Experience
Chris Wondolowski  United States Chico Rooks 2004 San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo, USMNT
Chris Klute  United States Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves 2011–12 Atlanta Silverbacks, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew SC, USMNT
Eric Kronberg  United States Sonoma County Sol 2004–05 Sporting Kansas City
Kofi Opare  United States Detroit City FC 2012 LA Galaxy, D.C. United
Patrick Mullins  United States New Orleans Jesters 2013 New England Revolution, New York City FC
Adam Bedell  United States Detroit City FC 2012–13 Columbus Crew, Orlando City SC
Mark Sherrod  United States Chattanooga FC 2012 Houston Dynamo, San Jose Earthquakes
Krystian Witkowski  Poland FC Buffalo 2011 Philadelphia Union
Paulo Mendes  Brazil Rhode Island Reds FC 2012–13 New York Cosmos
Pedro Mendes  Brazil Rhode Island Reds FC 2012 Atlanta Silverbacks, Indy Eleven
Jules Alex Nyom  Cameroon Minnesota Twin Stars 2010 RoPS
Rafael Diaz  United States Brooklyn Italians 2013 Orlando City SC
Michael Nwiloh  United States Chivas USA 2013 Georgia Revolution
Francis Mbome  Equatorial Guinea Minnesota Twin Stars 2010 Equatorial Guinea
Ansu Toure  Liberia Minnesota Twin Stars 2006 Minnesota Thunder, Atlanta Silverbacks, Miami FC, Vancouver Whitecaps,
FC Locarno, FC Vestsjælland, Liberia, Persiba Balikpapan
Borfor Carr  Liberia Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves 2011 Atlanta Silverbacks
Geoffrey Myers  Liberia Minnesota Twin Stars 2008 Minnesota Thunder
Moussa Toure  Liberia Minnesota Twin Stars 2008 Atlanta Silverbacks
Richard Kamara  Liberia Minnesota Twin Stars 2011 Liberia
Chris Rodd  Norway Sonoma County Sol 2013 New York Cosmos

Directors, Officers and Management team


Current Regional Board Members:

Management Team:

  • TBA – Commissioner
  • Jef Thiffault – Managing Director[39]
  • Gary Moody – Media Relations
  • Dr. Joseph Machnik – Director of Officials[40]

Conference Commissioners:

  • Kabba Joof – Head Coach, Rhode Island Reds FCNortheast Region – North Atlantic Conference (2013–present)
  • TBD – Northeast Region – Keystone Conference
  • TBD - Northeast Region – Mid-Atlantic Conference
  • TBD - South Region – South Atlantic Conference
  • TBD – South Region – Sunshine Conference
  • TBD -South Region – South Atlantic Conference
  • TBD – South Region – Southeast Conference
  • TBD – South Region – South Central Conference
  • TBD – Midwest Region – Great Lakes Conference
  • Cristian Brei – Madison 56ersMidwest Region – Central Conference (2013–present)
  • TBD – West Region – Southwest Conference
  • William Forte – San Francisco Stompers FCWest Region – Golden Gate Conference (2013–present)
  • TBD – West Region – Northwest Conference

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "The Unruly Soccer Pyramids of America by Mike Firpo". February 10, 2012. Retrieved October 1, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved March 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. [1][dead link]
  4. "Cosmos Announce Addition of Reserve Team". New York Cosmos. January 15, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "NPSL hires former MLS club exec; hopes to establish Northwest presence". GoalWA. May 15, 2013. Retrieved March 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "How to start a franchise in the NPSL". Retrieved March 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 [2][dead link]
  8. "Mitre Named Official Match Ball Sponsor". National Premier Soccer League. Retrieved March 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "NPSL ANNOUNCES PREFERRED VENDORS – National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved March 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "FXBG FC Joins NPSL for 2015". NPSL. February 6, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Fredericksburg FC adds NPSL, WPSL programs to youth club's player development structure". SoccerWire. November 25, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "MIAMI FUSION FC JOINS THE NPSL". National Premier Soccer League. April 2, 2015. Retrieved April 6, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "Wichita Joins for 2015". NPSL. April 30, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. [3][dead link]
  15. "NPSL and WPSL First Teams Inactive for the 2015 Season". Federal City FC. February 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "AFC ANN ARBOR JOINS THE NPSL – National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved 2015-09-21.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "SHREVEPORT RAFTERS FC JOINS THE NPSL – National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved 2015-10-24. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "NORTH COUNTY BATTALION JOINS THE NPSL – National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved 2015-09-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "BIRMINGHAM HAMMERS JOIN THE NPSL – National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved 2015-10-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "LITTLE ROCK RANGERS SOCCER CLUB JOINS THE NPSL – National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved 2015-10-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "Grand Rapids FC make change, joins National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved 2015-10-20.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. "MEMPHIS CITY FC JOINS THE NPSL – National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved 2015-11-04. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "BOSTON CITY FOOTBALL CLUB JOINS THE NPSL – National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved 2015-11-21. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. "ALBION SC PROS JOIN THE NPSL – National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved 2015-11-22. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "KINGSTON STOCKADE FOOTBALL CLUB JOINS THE NPSL – National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved 2015-11-27. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "ROCHESTER RIVER DOGZ JOIN THE NPSL – National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved 2015-11-30. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SPORTS CLUB JOINS THE NPSL". Retrieved 2015-12-02. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. "NPSL SOCCER COMING TO KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN". Retrieved 2015-12-04. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "'Kalamazoo FC' tabbed as name for new National Premier Soccer League team". Retrieved 2015-12-23. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "STRIKERS TO FIELD NPSL TEAM". Retrieved 2015-12-09. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. "CORINTHIANS USA JOINS THE NPSL". External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. "TOBACCO ROAD FC JOINS THE NPSL". Retrieved 2015-12-12. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "TAMPA BAY ROWDIES 2 JOINS THE NPSL". Retrieved 2015-12-23. External link in |website= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. Casey, Daniel. "The Rust Belt Derby". Soccer News Day. Soccer News Day. Retrieved May 14, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. "NPSL Soccer Weekend Recap, SD Flash Wins SD Derby, FC Hasental, OC Pateadores, Sacramento Gold and Real San Jose Gets Wins too". Soccer Nation. Soccer Nation. Retrieved May 14, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. "Vaqueros Surrender Trinity Cup to Dallas City FC". Retrieved June 8, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  37. "The Volunteer Shield: 3 Teams, 2 Interstate Systems, 1 Trophy". Retrieved January 6, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. "NPSL CHAIRMAN, BOARD ANNOUNCED – National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved March 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  39. "THIFFAULT NAMED MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE NPSL – National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved November 20, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  40. "MACHNIK NAMED DIRECTOR OF OFFICIALS FOR NPSL – National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved March 2, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links