NPSL North preview

The Northern Conference of the National Premier Soccer League has kept the same number of teams but it has traded in the unambitious Aris SC for the deeply ambitious Minnesota Blizzard FC. Here’s a look at the landscape in the conference.

Duluth FC

The BlueGreens finished the 2023-24 season with an almost perfect record (one draw, 11 victories, no defeats) and topped the Northern Conference by a comfortable margin, although they would eventually fall to Med City FC in the Conference Final. Tyler Limmer scored 7 times for Duluth FC, as the leading scorer.

The Conference Champion Mayhem have merged into their neighbors Rochester FC and the Loons have gone on hiatus in the NPSL this year. The decision raises questions about the most heated rivalry that Duluth will have this season. 

Dakota Fusion FC

Fusion powered their way to second place in the regular season table on the back of 16 goals in 10 games (the Golden Boot winning top tally in the entire national league) from Yu Tsukanome, who has moved on to Tacoma Defiance in MLS Next Pro. He will obviously be a huge loss for the team from Fargo, who lost in the first round of the North Conference playoffs, to the Mayhem. The Zandbroz derby with Sioux Falls Thunder remains the most interesting match-up for Fusion. 

Sioux Falls Thunder FC

The South Dakotans only managed 1 win and finished bottom of the Conference regular season standings, managing to give Aris a farewell gift of not winning the wooden spoon on their way out of the league. Thunder drew three matches.

Siouxland United FC

86 miles South of Sioux Falls on the I-29 is its Siouxland rival, Sioux City, Iowa. The regional nickname covers a tristate area (South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska) along the Big Sioux River basin. SUFC are a brand new club with a detailed, but pretty standard, ethos. 

Joy Athletic Club

Powered by Joy (of the People), a St. Paul non-profit, they have a well-worn pipeline from their academy sides up into the NPSL but have struggled to translate that into playoff performance and finished last season 4-8.  

Minnesota TwinStars FC

The TwinStars are a really, really difficult club to track. The Twin Cities metro team finished last season fourth, 8 points out of the playoffs. They have most recently played at Minnetonka High in the west of the Twin Cities metro.

Minnesota Blizzard FC

Lastly, the spectacularly named Blizzard have arrived in Lakeville, an area on the Southern end of the Twin Cities metro which has not previously hosted NPSL games.