While Major League Soccer, the NASL and USL are all months away from concluding their seasons, clubs at the fourth tier of North American soccer are wrapping up their seasons in the next 8 days.
The National Premier Soccer League and Premier Development League will both crown new champions this year, with one side looking to win back-to-back titles… in different leagues.
The National Premier Soccer League opts to play its Final Four at home grounds of the higher seed over two weekends, and that puts New York Cosmos B and Chattanooga FC in the driver’s seats.
On Saturday, the star-loaded Cosmos B will host CD Aguiluchos USA at Hofstra Soccer Stadium, and will be heavy favorites. Cosmos B is coached by former MLS Cup MVP Alecko Eskandarian, and his club has crushed the competition in the majority of its matches.
They’ve conceded just 7 times to go with 49 goals scored, with MLS vets like John Neeskens joined by up-and-comers like Haji Wright. CD Aguiluchos was the 4th seed in the West, and are named in honor of the El Salvadoran power.
The other semifinal is on Saturday as well, with last year’s runners-up in Chattanooga FC hosting Indiana Fire from the Midwest Conference. The Fire are the darlings of the tournament, using a late-season surge to get into the playoffs. They won’t be favored in Tennessee, where Chattanooga’s crowd is rowdy and ready to avenge last year’s Championship loss.
That loss came against the New York Red Bulls U23s, who’ve moved from the NPSL to the PDL. Over in Washington, the PDL will see MLS B-teams from New York and Seattle face independent opposition in their semifinals.
First, No. 2 seeded New York Red Bulls U-23s will hope to knock off No. 3 seeded Ocala Stampede at 9 p.m. ET before Canada’s K-W United takes on the Seattle Sounders U-23s.
The Sounders finished third in their conference, but knocked off their Cascadian rivals in Portland on the way to the semifinals. They’re led by Getafe product Guillermo Delgado, stalwart back Matt Reinikka (Davidson) and playmaking defender Alex De Carolis (Canisius College).
K-W United shocked the reigning champions Michigan Bucks, and will seek an international upset on the other side of the continent, Florida Gulf Coast keeper Nathan Ingham has been strong for United, with scoring coming in bunches from Coastal Carolina product Sergio Camargo and junior college player of the year Ben Polk.
The Red Bulls will bring a balanced offensive attack into their match with Ocala, who are led by defender Paco Craig of D-2 powers Young Harris and his college teammate, midfielder Lewis Hilton.