A pink shirted goalkeeper in the center of the frame stops a football with 5 other players looking on

UPSL Men's Round Up: Week 1


Austin Villa 1-0 Vlora FC

CJ Tree, the 2023 Post Bulletin All-Area Boys Soccer Player of the Year, provided the decisive tally for the home team, late in the match.

St Croix Legends II 4-2 Superior City FC

It only took ten minutes for St Croix Legends II to break the deadlock as Nathan Donovan received the ball, shrugged off a defender and unleashed a ball from 20 yards out, across the goalie and in. Five corners are indicative of the strength of the Legends in the opening half-hour, capped by a second goal - Agostino Quadrico Curzio from a Luca Contestabile cross. Carter Thiesfeld made it three in stoppage time before half-time, as a Legends high press forced an interception in the City penalty area.

The second half started with a few minutes where St Croix were happy to cede possession to Superior City and play, very effectively, on the break. The home side scored their fourth when Thiesfeld blasted a rocket from fully 25 yards out at the hour mark. City finally got on the scoresheet in the 66th minute, Henrico Zena with a burst down the left wing and a solo finish on the second attempt after the first shot was parried. It was 4-2 in the 70th minute as a cross field diagonal from the right side of defense landed on the City left wing. Henrico Zena reversed the ball into the middle of the box and Mark Fehringer deeked a defender and planted the ball firmly into the roof of the Legends net.

Worthington Community FC 4-3 Leon FC

WCFC opened the scoring against last year's D1 winners in the 16th minute through Anton Cordes. Juani Mackrey made it 2-0 with a header off of the cross from Prince Lebbi. In a back and forth second half, Leon scored through Eric Contreras before Isaac F. Correa assisted a second Mackrey goal for the Toros and the home team made it 4-1 when Cordes scored his second. Leon put together a furious late rally, with further goals by Eric Contreras and Luis Contreras but in the end, the visitors fell just short.

Coming Up:


Vlora FC v Worthington Community FC

Superior City FC v Austin Villa

Leon FC v 1826 Academy

Granite City FC v St Croix Legends II 


Superior City FC v FC Minneapolis

The sadness of an Open Cup half-empty

The 110 year old Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is being threatened by current events. The regional governing body Concacaf have seemingly sided with MLS. Since the facts have been well-covered by others, I'm gonna stick with the light that the tournament brings and the emotional attachment many have to it. At the time of publication, the format for this year (and future years) has not yet been made public, and we will update you when it is. 

Multiple rounds of Open Division Qualifiers for the Open Cup are conducted by teams of hard-working amateurs. The amateur team that lasts longest gets $25000. It's the same for the longest lasting D2 pro and D3 pro teams.  Call me naïve if you want, but I feel like the Open Division is the best of us as a football nation. I love the amateur clubs who play their way through to face the professionals, and especially those who win such matches. This site wouldn't exist without our passion for amateur football. Others prefer the pride-filled matches between teams in different professional divisions, or different leagues at the same level. Also, let me say it is a travesty that women's football doesn't have a parallel tournament to the one we're discussing here. Nonetheless, the Cup is the connective tissue of of US football's body. 

I have a t-shirt from thecup.us, it celebrates the historic clubs to have won the title 4 times. Working with that site for the last few years, it has provided me a privileged window into this tournament and provided a personal, emotional tie between me in flyover country and this vast, messy country. It's a landscape where Bethlehem Steel in Pennsylvania and Maccabee Los Angeles are the most successful clubs ever, and where a stunning panoply of teams from across the nation have won at least once. 

It's ongoing history too, back in 2018, I was privileged to witness chaos on the turf when Dakota Fusion travelled to University of Minnesota Duluth and played out a 4-4 draw with Duluth FC. The game ended in a spectacular penalty shootout victory for the home side. It was the only time North Dakota has seen itself reflected in national football. DFC have qualified for the tournament again this year, this is their pinned tweet:


I firmly believe that if the Cup did not exist, it wouldn't be created now and the fear is that any withdrawal by professional sides now will be difficult to reverse. Maybe the cancellations due to Covid 19 in 2020 and 2021 gave some people the impression that the history can be taken for granted.

There is an emerging belief among some football followers that amateur clubs should concentrate on the USASA Amateur Cup, but even that has a carrot at the end in the form of participation in the US Open Cup.

I believe that the Open Cup folding would also put a damper on the division 2 and 3 men's clubs who have no promotion to a higher division to dream of, and therefore can dream (sometimes even realize) victories against those larger clubs. These games provide a spotlight to professional players seeking to move up, as well as to pre-draft prospects from colleges big and small in a way that March Madness does for basketball. They provide a spotlight to the volunteers who literally make fields playable and clubs function.

It's not perfect, but it is a festival of possibility in a country where football is otherwise wedged into silos and I believe that unwinding MLS participation is the start of a steady process of debasing the tournament in a way which is very difficult to reverse and the horizon will seem darker without it.

WPSL North preview

Yes, it is too big but it features some of the best amateur players in the country, and some who have very recently been professionals. Let's look at the Northern Conference of the Women's Premier Soccer League.

Salvo SC

Having finished in second place in the North and taken a wildcard spot in the playoffs, Twin Cities-based Salvo made it all the way to the National Final before falling to a winner in the first minute of stoppage time and the end of the game by Charlotte Eagles. They were undefeated in the regular season, with two draws and six wins.

Minnesota Thunder

The regular season champions, but perennial refusers of a playoff berth, also finished undefeated, with seven wins and a draw. Kaitlyn MacBean went on a tear and finished the season with the most goals in the entire national league. The games between the two Twin Cities neighbors are usually fiercely contested.

Sioux Falls City FC

It's an exciting time in South Dakota, as the club prepare to launch a professional team in 2025 alongside the amateur side. They came third last season, behind Salvo on goal difference and with only one loss to their record (to Thunder). 

Dakota Fusion FC

Just up the I-29 is another prospective WPSL PRO club (In their case 2026). Given the presence of North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota in the Red River Valley and the fact that their closest amateur rival is nearly 250 miles away, Fusion should have a more consistent pool of players than has been the case. Nonetheless, there is no getting away from the fact that the women's side often features a strong Fargoan component. Last season continued a trend of the club being unable to keep the ball out of the net. They finished with zero wins and a -43 goal difference.

Joy Athletic Club

Based out of St Louis Park, just to the west of Minneapolis and affiliated with St Paul non-profit Joy of the People, the Goats accumulated three wins, four losses and two draws. 

MapleBrook Fury

Based in Maple Grove, a northwestern suburb of the Twin Cities, Fury tied Joy on 11 points but played two fewer games, accumulating a record of three wins, two draws and two losses. 

Manitou FC

White Bear Lake, MN in the northeast of the Twin Cities metro is home to Manitou FC. The club finished the season with three wins, five losses and a draw. 

St Croix Legacy 

Based on the eastern edge of the Twin Cities metro, Legacy had a see-saw season, with five wins, four losses and no draws. 

Mankato United

MUSC only managed two wins from nine matches, losing the other seven and finishing with a -10 goal difference. 

Rochester United

United finished the season with only three wins and six losses, coupled to a -21 goal difference.

Sioux City Sol

Emerging from nowhere to Siouxland between Sioux Falls and Omaha, they are playing "6 to 8 sanctioned matches" this year and joining the North fully next year.

USL League Two Deep North Preview

The Deep North division of United Soccer Leagues League Two stays largely unchanged, save for the departure of FC Manitoba in Winnipeg. Here's a look at the League Two landscape.

Thunder Bay Chill

The Division winners are back, having accumulated nine wins, two draws and only one loss on their way to the Conference Semifinals. They eventually lost to Des Moines Menace in extra time.

Minneapolis City SC 

The Crows finished second bottom in the Divisional table, with a record of three wins, three draws and six losses. Nonetheless, the non-playoff positions in the table were congested.

St Croix Legends

On the eastern edge of the Twin Cities metro in Stillwater, the Legends finished with five wins, six losses and a draw.

Rochester FC

The Loons in Southern Minnesota (as opposed to the MLS team) have had a busy off-season absorbing their NPSL-playing neighbors Med City FC and it will be interesting to see how the roster composition is impacted by a separate pool of players. RFC managed four wins, six losses and two draws.

Bavarian United

The legendary Bavs have racked up National Amateur Cup championships from their base in metro Milwaukee, but only managed one win in the USL L2 last season - their first in the league.

RKC Third Coast

The considerably younger Racine, WI based Third Coast made the playoffs in their debut season, but were up against Des Moines Menace and did not make it past that first round match. Their regular season record was eight wins, three losses and a draw.

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. 

The WPSL North is still too big

I argued last year that the WPSL North is too big. It's more than 51,000 sq miles, and it remains so, in fact with expansion into Sioux City Iowa, it's got even bigger. So how should we/would I split it?

You could do one of three things, in my mind.

a) Split it North-South.

b) Split it East-West, essentially along the line of Highway 10.

c) You could have a Twin Cities division and an Outstate (and indeed Out of State) division.

a) The North-South split


As you can see, this would put Mankato, Rochester, Sioux City and Sioux Falls together with Thunder (in Richfield) and Joy (St. Louis Park) in the Southern half. The Northern half would be Fusion (in Fargo), Manitou (White Bear Lake), MapleBrook (Maple Grove), St Croix (Stillwater) and Salvo (who play in Roseville). This would have the benefit of splitting up the traditional powerhouses so that we can have a juicy Championship match every year. Some would see the reduction in Twin Cities derbies as a potential downside.

Re-interpreting the results from this season: Thunder's only dropped points were against Salvo, so scratch them. Salvo dropped two points to Sioux Falls and Thunder, neither of whom they would have played. So we have a projected Championship between the two strongest teams anyway.

b) The East-West split

This arrangement would put Rochester on an island somewhat, so I'm not a fan. Mankato and Fusion are joined by MapleBrook, Thunder and Joy in the West. Again, Thunder and Salvo would face each other for the Conference.

c) The Twin Cities solution

This solution has the clear advantage of drastically reducing travel in the Metro. A split of any kinds also reduces travel for those Outstate teams too. It retains the Metro rivalries and the Zandbroz and Highway 14 Derbies. Last of all, it sets up a juicy Championship game with all sorts of Cities vs the rest atmosphere, if atmosphere is what you want. With the six Metro clubs (from NW clockwise: MapleBrook, Salvo, Manitou, St Croix, Thunder and Joy) only playing each other, Thunder and Salvo would fight for the Metro title and the Outstate title would have gone to Sioux Falls City, since their only dropped points were to Metro clubs.

Another argument for this alignment is the relative mobility of some of the Metro clubs. Salvo and Thunder both have camps across the Twin Cities, Joy of the People are based in St Paul.

If we take Thunder's non-participation in the playoffs to be a position statement, Salvo would face Sioux Falls City for a Conference Championship and that one spot in regionals.

NPSL Midwest Regional Finals Review

How did we get here?

The Gateway Conference went straight to its Championship match, and Des Moines United won 2-1 to advance.

The North Conference tournament saw Med City FC upset both the #2 seeded Dakota Fusion and the National #1 seeded Duluth on the road to earn their spot.

The Great Lakes Conference tournament saw Cleveland upset Michigan Rangers before they fell to Steel City FC.

The Heartland tournament saw the #1 seeded Tulsa Athletic advance.

Feel free to look back at those in detail, here.

The host site was chosen on a vote by the four competing teams, and the #4 seed (Steel City in Pittsburgh) lost out to the more centrally located #11 seed (Des Moines United in Indianola, IA).


#5 Steel City FC (Great Lakes) 0-0 (AET - 7-6 on PKs) #27 Med City FC (North)

Steel City had a golden opportunity to go ahead with only 5 mins on the clock, but Tate Mohney missed a chance unmarked in the six yard box from a counter attack. The first half finished goal less.

Med City's biggest chance came in the seventy-fifth minute, when Henry Tolbert took the ball off the toes of the Steel City keeper Garret Watson, but he failed to tap home into the open net. Iker Gonzalez kept Med City in it, with a point blank save. Two corners didn't result in a goal. A last minute goalmouth scramble for Steel City also failed to break the deadlock.

Steel City had another chance from close range as the first half of extra time. Tolbert had a good chance for Med City but his shot at the near post was under-hit.

In the penalty shootout, Steel City's Nolan Hutter missed, wide off the right hand post. Watson stopped the first Med City shot, from Toby Millward. Steel City's Bryan Akongo struck the decisive blow, as Matias Milla hit his own attempt high off the crossbar.

#8 Des Moines United (Gateway) 3-4 #12 Tulsa Athletic (Heartland)

In this battle of top-placed teams, Sora Noda had a chance for Des Moines in the eleventh minute, but from the save, the ball went right up the other end and Luis Flores scored from a free kick, direct from the top line of the penalty area. It was 2-0 in the thirty-ninth minute. United were temporarily down to ten men as a solo counter knifed down the right side vacated by the injured defender and it was blasted across the goalie into the side netting by Aboubakr Sidiki Moubarak Diallo.

The second half opened with United on the front foot but the early pressure did not result in any goals. Tulsa scored their third goal as Riolan Mello finished off an interception in the penalty area in the fifty-fourth minute. Only three minutes later, Aaron Ugbah finished with power, driving in from the left on the edge of the penalty area.  In the seventieth minute, United spoiled the clean sheet with a neat interchange of passes between the gridiron hashes before Lucas Malaguez swept home. Five minutes later, it was 4-2 through Lincoln Borges and only one minute after that it was 4-3, after Quentin Arnoud finished from a left wing corner. In the eighty-fifth minute, Nora's snap shot at the near post was saved for a corner. A free kick from twenty five yards out by United went high.

Final - #5 Steel City FC 1-2 (AET) #12 Tulsa Athletic

Regardless of who won this game, both Steel City and Tulsa Athletic received priority in the league's allocation of spots for the US Open Cup, along with the six other regional finalists. Ironically, after voting to hold the matches centrally in Iowa, it is the travelers from furthest East and the furthest South who played both days. Abou Diallo was a threat all night for Tulsa. Tate Mohney provided the most threat for Steel City.

Diallo put Tulsa ahead against the run of play in the twenty-fifth minute from a long ball over the top from Flores. He also had snapshots in the thirty-second and forty-second minutes blocked by last ditch defending.

The second half of regulation began with the same pattern of play. In the fiftieth minute, an Athletic free kick was whipped in, but the keeper gathered it. In the fifty-third minute, Tulsa also had a corner with no end result. The last third was end to end, with two Steel City corners back to back and a long shot from Tulsa. A Steel City attack in the seventieth was ended by a perfectly timed slide tackle, and up the other end it was Garret Watson stopping an Athletic free kick at point blank range. Both goalkeepers had outstanding stops in the eighty-second minute and then in the eighty-third minute, Steel City scrambled home the equalizer.

In the ninety-eighth minute, a Tulsa free kick was scrambled in, but the referee called offside. Ten minutes later, the game was finally settled when Aaron Ugbah dribbled across the field and took a shot from fully twenty yards out.

In a chaotic end to an otherwise calmly conducted game, Steel City ended the game officially down to eight men as Justin Copay, Rodrigo Albayeros and Brice Ghandi were all given straight red cards for dissent in the one-hundred-and-twentieth minute. 

Coming Up

For us, nothing else for this season. Tulsa Athletic moves on to play in the National Semifinals and we don't cover the Heartland, so we wish them well but won't be covering the National Semis.

WPSL Central: Regional XI

Khyah Harper, Salvo's hottest attacking player at the moment is not a shock, but comes to the postseason with a track record at the University of Minnesota and with Salvo. She is joined by club mates Ansley Atkinson, Lauren Eckerle and breakthrough highschooler Ayden Gagner in goal. At the other end of the experience range, FC Milwaukee Torrent's goalie Mikki Easter (joined by Kelli Swenson) and Kaylin Williams (joined by Aya Saiki) from KC Courage also received a nod.

Alyssa Glover, Sophia Nguyen and Hannah Gallegos of Colorado Rapids were named to the team.


NPSL Midwest: Conference XIs



These Conference Best XIs throw up some interesting results. Sunflower State FC and Club Atletico St Louis have the most members of the Gateway, even though they both failed to make the playoffs. On the other hand, 8 of the 12 selections in the Great Lakes, Heartland and North all come from the Conference Finalists. Obviously, if you want to spin that as a bad thing, that could point towards recency bias and against good performers on bad teams.   

Three of the top four in goals per game make their respective XIs (Yu Tsukanome, Miguel Arellano and Colin Innes) as does the player with the tenth highest number of mins per game (Colin Biros). Benjamin Colborn makes the charts with the tenth highest number of games played. I assume that the players voted into these XI form the nominees for the Regional XI (voting this weekend), therefore the Gateway's voting in of non-playoff players will presumably not be reflected in the latter vote. 

NPSL Midwest Playoffs: Conference Finals Review

For more on the results that got us here, click here

The rankings featured are the national points-per-game ranking. All Conference Finals are hosted by the higher seed. The NPSL has decided that the Conference Champion title will belong to whoever wins these matches. Amid those we surveyed, the move was unpopular.



#1 Duluth FC 1-2 #28 Med City FC at Public Schools Stadium, Duluth, MN.

A shocking game to end an unbeaten season. The BlueGreens were held scoreless until the third minute of first half stoppage time when Felipe Santos tapped home from close range. Duluth were reduced to ten men as Dylan Zavatini was sent off for a second yellow card in the sixty-fifth minute.  Med City equalized in the seventieth minute as Andres Solares committed a foul in the penalty area. The PK from Tristan Jumeau hit Zeke Foltz in the Duluth goal and crept into the goal. In the eighty-sixth minute, Duluth were down to nine men after a late tackle by Solares sent Lucas Hart up in the air. Med City head coach Neil Cassidy received a red card in the one-hundred and tenth minute for abusive language.

Ricardo Schroeder scored the winner in the one-hundred and fifteenth minute, tapping home from a Scott Neil cross from the right. Ignominiously, the hosts were eventually reduced to seven men as Colin O'Mahony was given a second yellow card and Kostya Domaratskyy a straight red (for abusive language) in stoppage time at the end of the game. Cassidy's red card could end up being the costliest, as it would mean his absence from the Regional Semifinal against Steel City FC.


#10 Des Moines United 2-1 (AET) #35 FC Milwaukee Torrent at MidAmerican Energy Company RecPlex, West Des Moines, IA

In the thirty-first minute, Torrent took the lead as Kyle Crain dribbled through the United defense and slotted it home. The equalizer came in the sixty-fifth minute as a deep cross from the right was met on the volley by Jayce Berger. The winner came in the one-hundred and nineteenth minute, as a deflection took the ball in the opposite direction than a despairing Nick Chiappa's dive.

Great Lakes

#4 Steel City FC 2-0 #36 Cleveland SC at Founders Field in Cheswick, PA.

Steel City took the lead in the thirty-seventh minute after a series of overlaps finished with a short pass into the six yard box where it was finished with aplomb by Gabe Norris.  A free kick from the left was nodded home in the eightieth minute by Ryan Landry to settle the game.


#16 Tulsa Athletic 2-1 #22 OKC 1889 at Rogers State University, Claremore, OK.

After a goal-less first half, it only took Tulsa take two minutes to break the deadlock, Luis Flores flicking the ball home at the near post after a pin-point drive free kick from the left. In the forty-ninth minute, OKC levelled the game through a blast from Nickell Alexander. Athletic took a quick free kick in the seventy-fourth minute and the cross was deflected home by Flores, with OKC out of shape.

Coming Up

The four Conference winners now move onto the Midwest Regional Semi-Finals, which will take place in Indianola, IA (One of the homes of Des Moines United) on Friday. Those matches will be:

Steel City FC v Med City FC and Des Moines United v Tulsa Athletic.

The Regional Final will then follow on Saturday at the same site.

Stay tuned for coverage of the regionals.

WPSL Central Region Semifinals: Colorado Rapids Women v KC Courage - July 15 - 4:00 pm CDT FC Milwaukee Torrent v Salvo SC - July 15 - 7:00 pm CDT Regional Finals Central Winner Game 1 v Central Winner Game 2 - July 16 - 3:00pm CDT

WPSL Central: Regional Finals Review

How it works:

At this stage, the Conference winners face each other in a central location of Wauwatosa, WI. For more on how the Conferences were won, see here


Colorado Rapids Women (Mountain) 1-0 KC Courage (Heartland)

Last year's national runner-up faced a club returning to WPSL after a spell in UWS. Rahael Akaety made the first notable contribution to the game, curling a shot wide from the right for Courage in the second minute. Annest hit a Rapids free kick up and over from the top of the penalty arc a minute later. The Rapids goalkeeper took a big risk in coming out of her area for a ball, but Courage were unable to capitalize on her being out of position. Rapids were hitting hard and fast, whereas Courage were choosing to build up more methodically. Slowly, Rapids moved into a position of strength for ten minutes but could not capitalize, with the best chance coming about when the ball pinballed around the six yard box but ended up with the keeper. In the thirty-third minute, a Rapids player went down in the area after a strong slide tackle, but a corner was given. A minute later, Glover countered but her shot was saved well by the sliding feet of the Courage keeper rushing out. The half ended with a Courage attacker seemingly shouldered off the ball in the area, but the referee gave a goalkick.

There was a frantic start to the second half. Courage with a free kick on the left side, 20 yards out on the left. The ball drifts into the box but no shot on goal. Courage with a spell of pressure for ten minutes. Rapids' Silverman on the counter, closed down. In the last five minutes, Rapids upped the pressure and had a great chance on goal in the eighty-fourth minute but the Rapids free kick drifts harmlessly past a sliding attacker.

In the ninety-seventh minute, there was a heavy collision between the Rapids goalie and an onrushing Courage attacker. Both are ok, but there was no goal. In the one-hundred and first minute, Silverman is taken down in the box but only a Rapids corner was called. The deciding goal came in the one-hundred and twelfth minute, when a corner was whipped into the near post from the left wing and Marie Annest leapt up and header the ball past the hands of the keeper in the aerial challenge.

FC Milwaukee Torrent (Midwest) 0-0 AET (6-7 on PKs) Salvo Soccer Club (North)

Torrent were knocked out in the Divisional Round last year, whereas Salvo were beaten in the Regional Semis.

Salvo dominated the first half, with Mikki Easter providing several highlight reel saves from Khyah Harper in particular. Sophia Boman hammered a long ball towards goal in first half stoppage time but again Easter was equal to it. The hosts only had a handful of chances in the first half.

Salvo finally got the ball in the net in the fiftieth minute, but it was ruled offside. Torrent finally got some purchase in the game, and had a chance in the center of the box in the fifty-third minute. In the fifty-seventh minute, Maddy Celerek took a ball to the chest but almost immediately was down the other end with a shot on goal. Salvo's best chance came in the sixty-sixth minute, when Harper twisted and turned her defender but the shot was saved. Two minutes later, Alexa Maletis ran in on a recycled ball from a Torrent corner but skews her shot wide from the edge of the area. In the seventy-seventh minute, Leyla Kelbel of Torrent passed directly to Harper but Torrent escape. Both teams had chances before Torrent finished regulation on top, pressing for a last minute steal of a win. Instead, it went to Extra Time. In the first half of Extra Time, the pattern was the same and Harper remained a threat to the Torrent defense but was unable to break through. In the second half of ET, play understandably got scrappy and Salvo had a chance right across the six yard box but no one was around to finish it.

In the end, it took sudden death penalties in a shootout to separate the two sides. Ayden Gagner with a save for Salvo and a subsequent winner by Bella Meier.


Colorado Rapids Women 0-2 Salvo SC

In a relatively even game, Khyah Harper broke through for Salvo in the 61st minute, something she unaccountably failed to do the previous day, with an assist from Meredith Haakenson, blasting home from twenty yards out, having dribbled into position. The same combination also accounted for the second goal, Harper hammering a ball past the keeper into the far side of the net from the right only five minutes later.

Salvo move on to represent the Central in the WPSL National Semifinals in Stillwater, OK on Saturday.

Stay tuned for our coverage of that event.

NPSL Midwest Playoffs: Conference Semi-Finals Review

How it works:


#1 Duluth FC 5-1 #51 Minnesota TwinStars

In the twenty-fifth minute, Duluth had a chance to go ahead from the penalty spot but Rory Doyle's PK was saved. Instead, TwinStars took the shock lead, on the break through Sidike Jabateh in the thirty-fifth minute. Only five minutes later, the BlueGreens equalized through leading goalscorer Tyler Limmer. In first half stoppage time, Duluth secured a second PK of the half, this time successfully completed by Kostya Domaratskyy.

TwinStars received a red card for dissent in the fiftieth minute. In the sixty-second minute, Andres Solares curled the ball past the keeper from the top of the box to make it 3-1. Felipe Santos hammered a shot off the crossbar at the near post to make it 4-1 in the seventy-fifth minute. The scoring was completed by Duluth's third PK of the night, Tyler Limmer with the shot.

#12 Dakota Fusion 0-2 #28 Med City FC

This matchup always promised to be a tight one, given the proximity of the two clubs in the standings and in the end it took a couple of shots in the second half to provide the difference. The opening five minutes was frantic and accented by an audacious attempt at a chip by Med City of the Fusion goalkeeper. The first half also ended with a sequence of stops by the Fusion keeper on Med City shots on goal.

In the fifty-seventh minute, with the score still 0-0, the home side had a golden opportunity but an unmarked header from a corner somehow skimmed off the attacker's head and into the goalkeeper's grasp. In the end it was more grit than artistry which secured the win, Lucas Hart with the scrambled opener in the sixty-ninth minute. Five minutes later, Med City methodically moved the ball around the Fusion defense and then Tristan Jumeau blasted it home from close range. Fusion had another good chance to get on the scoresheet in the seventy-sixth minute but a header was planted right at the keeper. The best chance for the home team came in second half stoppage time, when a shot off the rebound hit the foot of the post and bounced wide.

Great Lakes

#20 Michigan Rangers 0-1 #36 Cleveland SC

Cleveland pull the upset in a rain soaked semifinal, eventually called due to lightning. Julian Pellegrini had the winning goal.


#16 Tulsa Athletic 2-0 #61 Demize NPSL

Luis Flores scored both goals for Athletic, who move on, although it took until the seventy-first minute for Athletic to break through.

#22 OKC 1889 2-1 #48 Kansas City Sol

The away side took the surprise lead in the twelfth minute through Dontell Gilyard but Nickell Alexander proved key to the turnaround, scoring the equalizer in the sixtieth minute and the winner in the eighty-sixth.

Coming Up on Saturday

North - #1 Duluth FC v #28 Med City FC at Public Schools Stadium, Duluth, MN.

Heartland - #16 Tulsa Athletic v #22 OKC 1889 at Rogers State University, Claremore, OK.

Great Lakes #4 Steel City FC v #36 Cleveland SC at Founders Field in Cheswick, PA.

Gateway - #10 Des Moines United v #35 Milwaukee Torrent at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines, IA

WPSL Central Region Semifinals: Colorado Rapids Women v KC Courage - July 15 - 4:00 pm CDT FC Milwaukee Torrent v Salvo SC - July 15 - 7:00 pm CDT Regional Finals Central Winner Game 1 v Central Winner Game 2 - July 16 - 3:00pm CDT

WPSL Central Playoffs: Divisional Round Review

How it works:

At this stage, the divisional winners face each other. Don't see Heartland or North? That's because those conferences only have one division, so the regular season champion is the Conference champion and goes through to the next round. Or at least, they do if they don't withdraw (see below).

Colorado Rapids Women 5-1 Utah Avalanche for the Mountain Conference in Denver, Colorado

Rapids got off to a scorching start, Alyssa Glover sliding in to finish a mazy run by ... with only two minutes on the clock. Marianna Annest made it 2-0 with a PK in the eighth minute. The third goal came in the twenty-ninth minute, Sophia Nguyen slotting in at the near post after a long ball forward met her in stride in the penalty area.

It would remain 3-0 until the fifty-sixth minute when a long cross from the right was met by the diving head of Camryn Macmillan, who sent a looping ball back past the keeper at the far post. Callie Blaylock made it 4-1 in the seventy-first minute,  with a long distance snap shot which seemed to catch the Rapids keeper off-guard. Glover scored again in the seventy-ninth minute to make it 5-1, blasting a shot from the top of the area after a perfectly placed pass.

FC Milwaukee Torrent 3-2 Columbus Eagles FC (AET) for the Midwest Conference crown in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

Columbus made the nine-hour road trip on the day of the game and arrived in Milwaukee around three hours before kick-off, with only two available subs (not including our woman to watch Abby Townsend) - in a league where substitutions are unlimited.

Lola Wojcik provided an early test of Celeste Sloma in the Eagles net but was unable to break through. In the fifteenth minute, Alexa Maletis played through Sophia Balistreri but the shot was sent wide by Sloma. Eagles were playing slow-slow-quick-quick-slow and the quick came through some audacious shot attempts, the first of which was Lacee Bethea trying to chip Mikki Easter in the Torrent goal, but it went wide in the seventeenth minute. Even as the Eagles had the stronger chances it was Torrent who went ahead through a penalty kick in the twenty-fifth minute, after a foul on Elsi Twombly, with the aggrieved party taking the shot herself. Columbus still did not stop attacking and had a chance to level it in the 29th minute but the ball was comfortably caught by Mikki Easter in the Torrent goal.

Instead, it was Torrent increasing their lead - also from the penalty spot - as Lainey Higgins was fouled in the back and stepped up to also score her penalty kick. At that point it seemed that everything Columbus could throw at the challenge was going to founder on the rocks of a Torrent defense that had not conceded a goal at home this season but the Eagles kept trying, with Tori Haggitt and Lacee Bethea both missing chances before half time.

Torrent would come out of half time with an apparent desire to drive in a nail, but a chance in the forty-sixth minute was saved by Sloma. Eagles then had a chance put wide and Maletis slashed a shot wide in the fifty-fifth minute.

Columbus finally made a dent in the deficit only four minutes later, as Victoria Kevdzija on a one-two with Lacee Bethea unleashed a shot from twenty-two yards out into the bottom corner of the net to stun the Torrent players and fans. The Eagles continued to attack and they found their equalizer in the seventy-second minute, as Bethea pounced on a rebound from a save.

The last fifteen minutes of the half saw the Eagles dominate possession, seemingly looking to settle the result without Extra Time, and Sydney Worthy hammered a shot against the crossbar and away from danger but neither side could find a break through and we went on to an extra 30 minutes.

Extra Time opened with the Eagles still applying the pressure and Torrent on the counter-attack, however the best chance in the first half of ET was a shot from Twombly, deflected over.

The Torrent would not have to wait much longer for a breakthrough, however, as they burst out of the blocks from kick off in the second half of ET and Alexa Maletis side-footed the ball into the net within 30 seconds of the restart.

It was at this point that the wind finally left the wings of the Eagles as they took a series of long range shots on goal, perhaps in the hope of duplicating the momentum shift of regulation time.


Coming Up

The winners of these two matches will join Salvo (representing the North Conference) and KC Courage (Heartland champions) in the Central Region semifinals on Saturday July 15th in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

Northern winners Minnesota Thunder declined their invite because of player availability.

Salvo lost narrowly in the regional semi-finals last year, although this year, they avoid facing the #1 seeded Rapids until a potential Regional Final. Courage were in UWS. Torrent lost (in less than ideal circumstances) to KC Current II.

WPSL Central Region Semifinals: Colorado Rapids Women v KC Courage - July 15 - 4:00 pm CDT FC Milwaukee Torrent v Salvo SC - July 15 - 7:00 pm CDT Regional Finals Central Winner Game 1 v Central Winner Game 2 - July 16 - 3:00pm CDT
The regional finals for the Central region of the Women's Premier Soccer League
Image: WPSL

The ball is in the center-left of the frame, just inside the goal. Yellow kitted goalkeeper is horizontal across the goal. White kitted defender is in center of frame. Black kitted attacker is in right of field

NPSL Round Up: Week 8/9

This Week


Cleveland SC 3-2 Erie Commodores

Twelve minutes into the game, Erie broke through after a free kick was deflected for a corner and the corner was headed home by Joe Gasper. It was 1-1 in the seventeenth minute as Janis Schmidt put his foot through a ball from over twenty yards out and laced it into the back of the net. Paul Katende tripped Julian Pellegrini and in the forty-third minute it was a Cleveland PK by Bojan Kolevski, for the lead.

Shota Toyama hammered a ball home from the top of the area off a corner to make it 2-2. Benjamin Hryszko made it 3-2 in the sixty-second minute, intercepting a ball on the edge of the area. With the win, Cleveland SC secured the third seed in the Great Lakes Conference.

FC Columbus 3-4 Carpathia FC

Carpathia's Mohammed Hammoud virtually dribbled the ball into the net in the twelfth minute on the high press, to put his team ahead. The visitors made it 2-0 in the fortieth minute, as Marco Mazzei blasted a ball from the edge of the area, whilst nearly falling down. Rounding out the first half, a PK was awarded for Carpathia after Doug Hainer was stood on. Luke Morrell's shot was saved but Morell himself snapped up the rebound.

The home side started the second half with a bang, Damani Camara lacing a shot into the net on the half volley to make it 3-1. Camara chipped the ball over the keeper on the run to make it 3-2 in the sixty-second minute. Columbus's Yusuf Dabo hit the post in the 70th minute. Camara hit the crossbar in the eighty fifth minute, but still it remained a Carpathian lead. Hainer made it 4-2 in the eighty-seventh minute, capitalising on a searing run down the endline, crossed in by Alex DeMorow.  Matarr Sowe made it 4-3 in second half stoppage time.


Ehtar Belleville 1-1 Milwaukee Torrent

After a goal less first half, it was the hosts who struck first. David Cole laying the ball perfectly into the path of Brandon Nyagurungo to finish in the fifty-first minute. Torrent rescued a point in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time through Jonas Luskey Sanders's bobbled shot through traffic from the top of the box into the bottom corner.

Steel City 3-2 Michigan Rangers

Three minutes into the game, Chris Mendez converted a right wing cross to put Michigan Rangers on top. Nathan Prex equalized in the eleventh minute, dribbling in from the left and slotting the ball past the keeper into the bottom right corner of the goal. Prex then hit the post in the fourteenth minute.

Anthony DiFalco put Steel City ahead in the sixtieth minute, firmly into the right corner of the goal while running away to the left. In the seventy-third minute, Tomas Echevarria equalized, placing the ball hard into the roof of the net.  Michigan Rangers' Adam Hanson got two yellow cards in seventeen minutes and was dismissed in the seventy-seventh minute. Bryan Akongo put the home side back ahead, with a solo dribble and juke before slotting the ball home. Rangers' Nicolas Baigrie received a straight red card for Serious Foul Play in the eighty-fifth minute, scything into a challenge in midfield and both he and Hanson will be suspended for the playoff match Rangers will play.   

Sunflower State FC 5-2 Iowa Raptors

Elyes Ellouz broke the deadlock in the seventh minute for Sunflower but the Raptors replied almost immediately, through Saiheed Jah.  Kolby Godbolt made it 2-1 to Raptors on the breakaway. Ellouz turned provider in the fifth minute of first half stoppage time, slotting the ball through to Kevin Hubbell.

Bryce Dickerson put Sunflower ahead in the seventy-fifth minute with a delicate chip from a pass after Prince Idornigie had tight-roped the left touchline. Ellouz made it 4-2 in the eighty-second minute. Two minutes later, Colin Innes scored a PK for Sunflower (at the second ask) after an agricultural challenge. The win vaults Sunflower ahead of Torrent in the race for the second place in the Gateway Conference Championship.

Dakota Fusion 8-2 Joy

Interesting scenario. Joy traveled to Moorhead with their black jerseys, but that was also the kit that Fusion were expecting to wear, so the operations staff for the home team scrambled to get an alternative kit on site. Such a scenario is not unheard of, but the stadium is in the middle of a building site and the floodlights are out of action so there was a hanging question mark over whether a) the game would be completed before sunset and b) if it would be called at sunset.

Fusion started the game on the front foot, including a couple of corners and a cross across the six yard box but no goal. Yu Tsukanome put the home side ahead in the twelfth minute, sweeping the ball home after a scramble in the six yard box. Fusion doubled the lead in the twenty-seventh minute, a neat passage of passes ended on the foot of Tsukanome via a Cai Pritchard run for him to tap home. Rashaad Ogun scored the third goal for the home side in the thirty-fifth minute, intercepting a misplayed square pass at the back and finishing past Edward Holmes.  Only a minute later, Pritchard to Tsukanome again for his hat trick.  Joy struck back immediately, Philip Caputo whipping a free kick from the left wing 20 yards out, inside the near post. Owen Salzwedel made it 4-2 in the forty-fifth minute, on a series of passes right down the gut of the Fusion defense. 

Joy began the second half in much better nick than the first, having chances on goal and more controlled possession in midfield but could not make further inroads. In the seventieth minute, Tsukanome hammered a shot at Holmes but the Joy goalkeeper was equal to it. In the seventy-seventh minute, Tsukanome took sole possession of the lead in the NPSL Golden Boot with his fourth goal of the game (and his fifteenth goal in ten games), connecting on a through pass. Tsukanome scored his fifth goal in the eighty-seventh minute, catching another defense splitting pass. Eddie Burgos made it 7-2 in the ninetieth minute, also connecting with a nice through pass. Brandon Gasper made it 8-2 less than a minute later. Thankfully, the daylight held out. 


Club Atletico St Louis 2-3 Milwaukee Torrent

The visitors started early, with Khedive Konde Gwo rocketing a ball into the net from a right wing corner with only five minutes on the clock. Torrent had a golden opportunity to make it two in the twenty-first minute but a shot from in close went sailing over the goal. Konde Gwo then made it two in the twenty-fifth minute, capitalising on a series of deflections to tap home from within the six yard box - with CASL calling in vain for offside. CASL had a goal called back in the fortieth minute.

In the sixty-fifth minute, Torrent went 3-0 ahead, Konde Gwo finishing from a right wing cross to collect his hat trick. It was 3-1 in the seventieth minute as Nedim Sarajlija blasted home from the edge of the area. Only three minutes later, the home side scored again, Zach Renz smashed the ball home from a corner. CASL were reduced to ten men in the eighty-seventh minute, as  Xavier Brown was dismissed for a denial of a goal scoring opportunity.  The result puts Torrent within one point of the second spot in the Gateway Conference Championship, but they were to face fellow challengers Sunflower State FC next, in what amounted to a play-in game.  See below for details of that match.

Med City FC 1-1 Duluth FC

After an intricate sequence of passes down the left by the hosts, it was Tristan Jumeau who laced one from just outside the area into the back of the net in the seventeenth minute.

The equalizer came from Conor Behan in the forty-ninth minute off a free kick six yards out on the left wing. A Med City free kick in the sixty-fifth minute struck the wall and the rebound from Scott Neil went flying past the outside of the far post.  Julio Rojo narrowly missed a headed chance to put the hosts back ahead in the eightieth minute. What were Duluth's first dropped points of the entire season, could have been even more pronounced. In a strange sequence in the eighty-eighth minute, a PK was awarded to Med City - and then rescinded on consultation with the linesman -  but a red card was issued to Duluth FC's Colin O'Mahony for abusive language.

Akron City FC 0-1 Carpathia FC

Francesco Mazzei provided the decisive blow, slotting into the side netting on the far post after a sequence of exchanges between Mazzei and his brother, Marco in the thirty-eighth minute.

Erie Commodores 3-0 FC Columbus

The Commodores announced that the game was canceled, and the league has it as a 3-0 win, so our best guess is that it has gone in the books as a Columbus forfeit.


Med City FC 3-0 Sioux Falls Thunder

Scott Neil rocketed home from just outside the penalty area in the twenty-fifth minute from a pull back by Tristan Jumeau to put the hosts ahead. Gio Soares set up a second Neil goal in the fortieth minute, placed into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

Joshua Seyer received a straight red card in the fifty-fifth minute for the denial of a goalscoring opportunity. From the resultant free kick, Lucas Hart curled one over the wall and into the top corner of the goal to make it 3-0.

As well as a playoff date in Fargo-Moorhead on the 12th, Med City also have a Minnesota Super Cup semifinal at home on the 22nd.

Minnesota TwinStars 5-1 Aris

Aris went ahead through Ernesto Ascenzo in the twenty-fifth minute after a long ball down the left flank sprung the TwinStars offside trap, three minutes later TwinStars equalized as a series of close passes in the middle of the pitch culminated in Miguel Arellano finishing the chance. The home side went up 2-1 in the thirty-fifth minute when a cross from deep on the right was driven hard and low into the goal by Arellano. It was 3-1 in the fortieth minute as Sadra Golzarian finished off a move triggered by an interception of aimless passing by Aris twenty yards from their own goal.

A long ball up field bounced high off the turf in the fifty-fifth minute and Sidike Jabateh beat the goalkeeper to the spot and headed it home for his hat trick. Five minutes later, Aris scored again, a solo dribbling effort followed by a curled shot into the bottom right corner by Stan Cargill. In the seventy-first minute, it was 5-2 as an interception in midfield led Arellano on a run of his own, including a cheeky move around the keeper for his hat trick. The win seals TwinStars place in the playoffs, although they face the daunting task of a road trip to Duluth.

Sunflower State FC 0-4 Des Moines United

With Sunflower fighting for the only remaining spot in the Gateway Conference Championship, Evan Carlson dribbled across the top of the area and through a challenge from a defender before curling it beyond the Sunflower keeper Noah Reuscher, to put Des Moines in front in the eleventh minute. Sunflower had a period of possession around the half-hour mark and it gave them their first shot on goal in the twenty-ninth minute.

Jayce Berger set up Erich Legut in the fifty-first minute to make it 2-0, with a rocket from close range into the roof of the net. In the seventy-seventh minute, United's Andre Lopes made it 3-0, also from close range after he connected with a long ball upfield. A neat sequence of passing lead to number four, scored by Kais Sabic. This defeat is immaterial to Sunflower's playoff hopes, which hinged entirely on the game against Milwaukee Torrent (outlined below). Des Moines United secured their spot a while ago.

Friday 7/7

Carpathia FC 2-0 FC Columbus

A fifth minute PK was ordered for Carpathia after a Columbus defender clumsily ran into the back of a counterpart, and it was successfully taken by James Todd.

The lead was doubled by Joshua Rubin, finishing off a neat exchange of passes between the gridiron hashes in the fifty-first minute.

Cleveland SC 1-1 Steel City FC

Ryan Landry nailed a header from six yards out from a left wing cross in the thirty-ninth minute to put the division winners on top. Bojan Kolevski dribbled into position along the top of the penalty area and slotted the ball into the bottom left corner of the net for the equalizer in the fifty-first minute.  Pedro Alves in goal for Cleveland blocked an immediate effort by Steel City to reclaim the lead but that was the best chance either side had in the second half. The Pittsburghers have earned slightly more than a week of rest before the Great Lakes Conference Final on the 15th, whereas Cleveland will have to play on Wednesday the 12th and then again on Saturday.


Sunflower State FC 0-1 Milwaukee Torrent

Sunflower needed a win, but came away with a loss.

After a goal-less first half, Sunflower had a PK early in the second half to go ahead. Unfortunately for the hosts, it was well saved by the Torrent goalie Nick Chiappa. Torrent eventually gained the goal which would be insurance in the eightieth minute as Cole Stephens took advantage of a Sunflower team pushed high in search of their essential goal.

Duluth FC 4-1 Dakota Fusion

Duluth started quick. Rory Doyle scored a penalty earned by Tyler Limmer in the twelfth minute and made it 2-0 only two minutes later through Joshua Bellamy. Fusion scored three goals against the BlueGreens. Unfortunately, two of those goals were in their own net. Benjamin Colborn scored the only time they struck at the right end.  In the end, this match was academic in every sense but one: If the top seeds both win their semi-finals, this is the exact two opponents and venue that will host the North Conference championship on Saturday.

Minnesota TwinStars 0-2 Joy Athletic

An own goal in the sixty-third minute gave Joy a lead in this Twin Cities derby, and victory was sealed when Freddy Fernandez scored in the ninetieth minute.

Sioux Falls Thunder 1-1 Aris

Sioux Falls finished the first half leading thanks to a late goal by Lubos Polacko. Benjamin Pena scored the equalizer in the fifty-sixth minute.

Erie Commodores 1-1 Michigan Rangers

Michigan Rangers took the lead on a thirtieth minute Max Wilhelm PK after an attacker was clipped in the box. Erie found their equalizer in the seventy-second minute through Kaito Ueki but in the end it was a drawn game to end the Commodores' season and send the Rangers back home for the playoffs.

Goalscoring Note

Dakota Fusion forward Yu Tsukanome has finished the regular season with 16 goals from 10 games NPSL North schedule, or 1.6 goals per game. This means he has won the Golden Boot as the regular season's top goalscorer across all the entire league. This is the third time in three years that the Midwest has contributed the Golden Boot winner (2021 saw the award go to Duluth FC's Sidney Warden, also with 16 goals, last year it went to Damani Camara of FC Columbus, with 15 goals).

Tsukanome is also in pole position for the Golden Ball, awarded to the best player overall. That award last went to someone in our region in 2017, when Jade Johnson (also of Dakota Fusion) won it with a Fusion-record 17 goals but a GPG of 1.3077, which meant he was pipped to the Golden Boot by 1 goal.

Coming Up - Playoffs:

(# = National ranking)


#1 Duluth FC v #51 Minnesota TwinStars

#12 Dakota Fusion v #28 Med City FC

Great Lakes

#20 Michigan Rangers v #36 Cleveland SC



#16 Tulsa Athletic v #61 Demize NPSL

#22 OKC 1889 v #48 Kansas City Sol

For more about these match-ups, go here.