2018 NPSL Lone Star Conference Preview

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The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) Lone Star Conference Division began play last Saturday and kicks off a full schedule of matches this weekend. Each team in the Lonestar Conference/South Region of the NPSL will play a 10-game regular season schedule that extends from May 12 to July 4th.  Eight Texas teams and Shreveport Rafters FC will form the Conference for 2018.

NPSL, commonly recognized as a part of the unofficial 4th Tier of the U.S. Soccer Pyramid, now consists of over 100 teams spread throughout the United States.  The league was founded in 2003 under a different name and has grown significantly over the years.

On the opening weekend of the Lone Star Conference schedule, Shreveport Rafters won on the road when they defeated their closest geographical rivals, Tyler FC Kings, 2-1.  In the other first week match, Ft. Worth Vaqueros traveled to Houston and came away with a 2-0 victory over Regals SCA.

The majority of NPSL teams begin play this month.  Unlike the Premier Development League (PDL), which has a coordinated approach to its schedule and operations, the NPSL relies on its conferences and teams to dictate much of its scheduling and other activities.  As an example, teams in select Western conferences began their seasons in March and have already played as many as 8 matches.  Also unlike the PDL, professionals can play in the NPSL, though all Texas teams use solely amateur players to prevent NCAA eligibility issues.

All six Lone Star Conference teams return from 2017 and three expansion teams, Brownsville, Katy and Laredo, join for this year.

For playoff and scheduling purposes, the 9-club conference has been broken into 3 pods, roughly divided by geographic areas.  Each Lone Star team will play the other 8 teams in the Conference, and an additional match against each of the other two teams in their pod.

The top two teams from each pod advance to the Lone Star Conference playoffs (played between July 7-14) and are seeded in the order of their regular season finish.  The two highest overall finishers receive a first round bye and the remaining four play an opening round game, which is hosted by the three and four seeded teams.  Playoffs continue in the Lone Star Conference until a champion is crowned.  That team then advances to play in the Southern Conference playoffs and ultimately, if successful, to the NPSL Semifinal round.

Last year the first Texas NPSL team made an appearance in the NPSL Championship Game in New Haven, CT.  Midland-Odessa FC made an improbable run to the final where it lost, with a make-shift roster, to Elm City Express 5-0.  The league has changed its schedule this year, to prevent a repeat of what happened last year, when MOFC lost virtually all of its players to mandatory NCAA reporting dates, and scrambled to assemble a roster to play for the Championship.  2018’s NPSL National Championship game will be played on Saturday, August 4 at the location of the team with the best regular season record.

Lone Star Conference Division

Red Group: (Northern Teams)

Ft. Worth Vaqueros FC

Head Coach:  Nicholas Stavrou

Years in NPSL: Fifth Season

2017 Standings:  7-2-1-22 points (First place-lost in first playoff round)

Home Field:  Farrington Field-Ft. Worth, TX

Roster:

http://fortworthvaqueros.bonzidev.com/sam/teams/index.php?team=5936228

Midland-Odessa Sockers FC

Head Coach: Luis Rincon

Years in NPSL:  Second season

2017 Standings:  7-3-0-21 points (Third place-lost in NPSL National Championship)

Home Field:  Grande Communications Stadium, Midland, TX

Roster:

http://midlandodessafc.bonzidev.com/sam/teams/index.php?team=5940768

Tyler FC Kings

Head Coach:  Christopher Avila

Years in NPSL:  Second season

2017 Standings:  0-8-2-2 points (Did not qualify for playoffs)

Home Field:  Hayes Soccer Fields-Tyler, TX

Roster:

http://tylerfc.bonzidev.com/sam/teams/index.php?team=5951528

Blue Group: (Eastern Teams)

Dutch Lions FC

Head Coach:  Marco Pruis

Years in NPSL:  Third season

2017 Standings:  6-1-3-21 points (Second place-lost in first playoff round)

Home Field:  Dutch Lions FC Soccer Facility-Conroe, TX

Roster:

http://dutchlionsfc.bonzidev.com/sam/teams/index.php?team=5933528

Katy 1895 FC

Head Coach:  James Krueger

Years in NPSL:  First year

2017 Standings:  N/A

Home Field:  St. John XXIII College Preparatory-Katy, TX

Roster:

http://katyfc.bonzidev.com/sam/teams/index.php?team=5952368

Background:

https://txsoccerjournal.com/2018/04/09/katy-1895-fc-a-new-community-focused-west-houston-club-begins-npsl-play-next-month-2/

Shreveport Rafters FC

Head Coach:  Montgomery Cole

Years in NPSL:  Third season

2017 Standings:  3-5-2-11 points (Fourth place-lost in second playoff round)

Home Field:  Independence Stadium-Shreveport, LA

Roster:

http://shreveportraftersfc.bonzidev.com/sam/teams/index.php?team=5951108

White Group: (Eastern and Southern Teams)

FC Brownsville

Head Coach:  Martin Vela

Years in NPSL:  First year

2017 Standings:  N/A

Home Field:  Brownsville Sports Park-Brownsville, TX

Roster:

http://fcbrownsville.bonzidev.com/sam/teams/index.php?team=6276412

Background:

https://txsoccerjournal.com/2018/05/09/fc-brownsville-a-new-club-in-the-rio-grande-valley-joins-the-npsl-for-2018/

Houston Regals SCA

Head Coach:  David Perez

Years in NPSL:  Fifth season (not continuous)

2017 Standings:  2-6-2-8 points (Did not qualify for playoffs)

Home Field:  Houston Regals SCA Facility-Houston, TX

Roster:

http://houstonregalssca.bonzidev.com/sam/teams/index.php?team=5936848

Laredo Heat SC

Head Coach:  Dana Taylor

Years in NPSL: First year

2017 Standings:  N/A

Home Field:  Texas A&M International University Soccer Complex-Laredo, TX

Roster:

http://laredoheatsc.bonzidev.com/sam/teams/index.php?team=5952648

Background:

https://txsoccerjournal.com/2018/05/02/laredo-heat-return-to-texas-soccer-in-2018-this-time-in-the-npsl/

2018 Lone Star Conference Schedule (Non-Texas Home Matches)

Saturday, May 5:

Tyler FC Kings vs. Shreveport Rafters FC 2

Houston Regals SCA vs. Ft. Worth Vaqueros FC 2

Saturday, May 12:

FC Brownsville vs. Midland-Odessa Sockers FC

Ft. Worth vs. Tyler

Katy 1895 FC vs. Shreveport

Dutch Lions FC vs. Houston

Thursday, May 17:

Tyler vs. Brownsville

Friday, May 18:

Laredo Heat SC vs. Houston

Saturday, May 19:

Ft. Worth vs. Midland-Odessa

Dutch Lions vs. Katy

Shreveport vs. Brownsville

Thursday, May 24:

Midland-Odessa vs. Laredo

Saturday, May 26:

Brownsville vs. Katy

Houston vs. Laredo

Midland-Odessa vs. Tyler

Dutch Lions vs. Ft. Worth

Wednesday, May 30:

Laredo vs. Brownsville

Saturday, June 2:

Brownsville vs. Houston

Katy vs. Midland-Odessa

Tyler vs. Ft. Worth

Dutch Lions vs. Shreveport

Wednesday, June 6:

Laredo vs. Dutch Lions

Saturday, June 9:

Houston vs. Tyler

Midland-Odessa vs. Ft. Worth

Shreveport vs. Katy

Wednesday, June 13:

Houston vs. Brownsville

Thursday, June 14:

Tyler vs. Midland-Odessa

Saturday, June 16:

Brownsville vs. Dutch Lions

Ft. Worth vs. Katy

Shreveport vs. Midland-Odessa

Tuesday, June 19:

Katy vs. Houston

Wednesday, June 20:

Dutch Lions vs. Tyler

Thursday, June 21:

Shreveport vs. Laredo

Saturday, June 23:

Ft. Worth vs. Brownsville

Houston vs. Shreveport

Midland-Odessa vs. Dutch Lions

Tyler vs. Laredo

Wednesday, June 27:

Brownsville vs. Laredo

Katy vs. Tyler

Shreveport vs. Dutch Lions

Saturday, June 30:

Ft. Worth vs. Shreveport

Laredo vs. Katy

Tuesday, July 3:

Katy vs. Dutch Lions

Laredo vs. Ft. Worth

Wednesday, July 4:

Midland-Odessa vs. Houston

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