National Premier Soccer League

National Premier Soccer League
Founded 2003 (2003)
Country United States
Confederation CONCACAF
U.S. Soccer
Divisions 14 conferences in 4 regions
Number of teams 98
Level on pyramid 4 (unofficial)
Domestic cup(s) U.S. Open Cup
Current champions Miami FC 2 (1st title)
Most championships 16 clubs (1 title each)
Website NPSL website
2018 NPSL season

The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) is an American soccer league commonly recognized as being a fourth tier league although it has been given no official designation by U.S. Soccer.[1][lower-alpha 1] 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) and the United Soccer League (USL), and roughly equal with the Premier Development League (PDL).[1] It is the successor of the Men's Premier Soccer League, a regional league originally based out of the Western United States, which has now expanded nationwide to encompass teams from 29 states. The league's motto is "A National League with a Regional Focus". Some of the clubs are former USL clubs.

Competition format

The National Premier Soccer League's is divided into four separate Regions (Northeast, South, Midwest, and West). Each Region is divided into conferences with varying number of teams per conference. 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]

The NPSL currently has automatic berths in the U.S. Open Cup where they gain eligibility towards the CONCACAF Champions League.


The National Premier Soccer League began in 2003 as the Men's Premier 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.


Officially the USSF does not recognize formal levels of the soccer pyramid below the professional 3rd tier. 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.

The 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 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 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 2016 are reported to be a one-time $15,000 franchise fee and a $5,250 annual league fee.[4] 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.

Sponsorship and partnerships

Mitre Sports International provided the official ball for the NPSL starting in 2014, the sponsorship agreement lasted through the 2016 season. The league also announced several partnerships for the 2014 season, Global Scarves, Wecando, and Pabian Law. Global Scarves and the NPSL planned strategically partnering to not only outfit every NPSL team with soccer scarves branded to the specific team, but planned on working together to increase and elevate the status of both entities to a higher level. Global Scarves began providing custom soccer scarves throughout the league, and worked 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.



Year No. 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
2016 84 19 0
2017 97 30 17


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 teams' shared region, the Rust Belt.[28]

Another intense rivalry existed between the San Diego Flash and San Diego Boca/Force FC, which were crosstown rivals in San Diego. 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.[29]

Derby name Most wins Titles Other club(s) Recent winner
Alameda County Derby[30]CD Aguiluchos USA2 (2016, 2017)East Bay FC Stomperssplit
Wine Country Derby[31]Sonoma County Sol1 (2017)Napa Valley 1839 FCSonoma County Sol
Erie County DerbyErie Commodores FC5 (2009–2014)FC BuffaloErie Commodores FC
I-20 CupBirmingham Hammers1 (2017)Georgia RevolutionBirmingham Hammers
I-91 DerbyElm City Express1 (2017)Hartford City FCElm City Express
Everglades CupMiami United1 (2014)Cape Coral HurricanesMiami United
Gulf Coast CupTampa Marauders1 (2014)Cape Coral HurricanesTampa Marauders
I-40 CupLittle Rock Rangers1 (2016)Memphis City FCLittle Rock Rangers
Louisiana CupNew Orleans Jesters1 (2016)Shreveport Rafters FCNew Orleans Jesters
Red River CupTulsa Athletic1 (2014)Fort Worth Vaqueros, Liverpool Warriors, Oklahoma City FCTulsa Athletic
Rust Belt Derby[32]Detroit City FC4 (2013–2016)AFC Cleveland, FC BuffaloDetroit City FC
San Diego DerbySan Diego Flash4 (2011–13)Albion SC Pros, North County Battalion, San Diego Boca FCSan Diego Flash
Trinity River CupDallas City FC1 (2014)Fort Worth VaquerosDallas City FC[33]
Volunteer ShieldChattanooga FC3 (2014–16)Knoxville Force, Inter Nashville FC, Memphis City FCKnoxville Force
Green Line Derby Minneapolis City SC 1 (2017) Viejos son los Trapos FC (St Paul) Minneapolis City SC

Records and champions

Season Winner Score Runner-up
2003 Arizona Sahuaros 2–1 (a.e.t.) Utah Salt Ratz
2004 Utah Salt Ratz 4–2 Arizona Sahuaros
2005 Detroit Arsenal 1–0 Sonoma County Sol
2006 Sacramento Knights 2–1 Princeton 56ers
2007 Southern California Fusion 1–0 Queen City FC
2008 Pennsylvania Stoners 3–0 Minnesota Twin Stars
2009 Sonoma County Sol 2–1 Erie Admirals SC
2010 Sacramento Gold 3–1 Chattanooga FC
2011 Jacksonville United 3–2 Hollywood United Hitmen
2012 FC Sonic 1–0 Chattanooga FC
2013 RVA Football Club 2–0 Sonoma County Sol
2014 New York Red Bulls U-23 3–1 Chattanooga FC
2015 New York Cosmos B 3–2 (a.e.t.) Chattanooga FC
2016 AFC Cleveland 4–2 Sonoma County Sol
2017 Elm City Express 5–0 Midland-Odessa FC
2018 Miami FC 2 3–1 FC Motown

Notable players with NPSL experience

NameNationalityFormer NPSL clubFromNotable experience
Adam Bedell United StatesDetroit City FC2012–13Columbus Crew SC, Orlando City SC
Knox Cameron United StatesDetroit City FC2016Columbus Crew
Russell Cicerone United StatesFC Buffalo2014Portland Timbers 2, FC Cincinnati
Thabiso Khumalo South AfricaLansing United2015–17Charleston Battery, Wilmington Hammerheads FC, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, D.C. United
Chris Klute United StatesAtlanta Silverbacks Reserves2011–12Atlanta Silverbacks, Colorado Rapids, Columbus Crew SC, USMNT
Eric Kronberg United StatesSonoma County Sol2004–05Sporting Kansas City
Patrick Mullins United StatesNew Orleans Jesters2013New England Revolution, New York City FC
Kofi Opare United StatesDetroit City FC2012LA Galaxy, D.C. United
Kwadwo Poku GhanaGeorgia Revolution2011–2013Atlanta Silverbacks, New York City FC, Ghana
Mark Sherrod United StatesChattanooga FC2012Houston Dynamo, San Jose Earthquakes
Chris Wondolowski United StatesChico Rooks2004San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo, USMNT

Directors, officers and management team


  • Joe Barone – Brooklyn Italians – chairman (2013–current)
  • Cindy Spera – chairman of soccer programs for New York Athletic Club – managing director (2018–current) formerly treasurer (2013–2016) and director of operations (2016–2018)[34]
  • Barry Dixon – founder, Jacksonville United – secretary (2013–present)

Current regional board members

Management team

  • Cindy Spera – managing director
  • Gary Moody – media relations
  • Paul Scott – director of officials
  • Dina Case – director of membership development[35]

Conference commissioners

  • Kabba Joof – head coach, Rhode Island Reds FCNortheast Region – North Atlantic Conference (2013–present)
  • Cristian Brei – Madison 56ersMidwest Region – Central Conference (2013–present)
  • William Forte – East Bay FC StompersWest Region – Golden Gate Conference (2013–present)

See also


  1. The United States soccer league system currently does not have a third-tier league, effectively making the NPSL part of the third-tier, along with the Premier Development League.


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  2. "National Premier Soccer League". Retrieved March 2, 2015.
  3. Archived March 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
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  6. 1 2 NPSL (December 15, 2016). "Greater Lowell NPSL FC Launches Rebranding Initiative". Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  7. 1 2 3 4 NPSL (January 18, 2017). "West Chester United Soccer Club Joins the NPSL". Retrieved January 24, 2017.
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  17. " Sports: Torrent joins National Premier Soccer League, owner calls it 'best fit'". Retrieved April 12, 2016.
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  25. NPSL (January 19, 2017). "Spokane Soccer Club Shadow Joins the NPSL". Retrieved January 24, 2017.
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  27. "Los Angeles United Football Club Joins the NPSL". NPSL. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
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  29. "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.
  30. Thomas Hodul. "Alameda County Derby: NPSL's Newest Intra-County Rivalry". Midfield Press. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  31. "Rivalry Week in the NPSL Golden Gate Conference". Midfield Press. 2017-04-20. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  32. "The Rust Belt Derby by Daniel Casey -". Retrieved November 22, 2017.
  33. "Vaqueros Surrender Trinity Cup to Dallas City FC". Retrieved June 8, 2014.
  34. "Cindy Spera Named Managing Director of the NPSL". National Premier Soccer League. April 14, 2018. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  35. "Los Angeles United Football Club Joins the NPSL". National Premier Soccer League. July 10, 2018. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
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