SMOKEY POINT, WA—The elite adult soccer scene in the United States offers something for everyone and every club. But it does not offer consistent structure like many other countries have. This is true in both the State of Washington and especially nationally. There are many leagues but a lack of a promotion and relegation structure means networking and buying your way in take precedence over earning it on the pitch and playing your way up.
Take A Breath, Look Ahead
Snohomish County Football Club annually takes stock of where we are and where we want to eventually be. Part of this is evaluating our options in leagues for our various teams. For the Steelheads outdoor team we have been using the month-long break in play from the Western Washington Premier League (WWPL) to talk internally about 2022. We also posted a public poll for input. The choices on that poll reflect our most realistic options.
The most affordable option for joining a national league is the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL). Doing this would provide a pathway to national playoffs and to be a part of that league’s evolving promotion and relegation set-up. The UPSL is booming nationally, with over 300 teams. The UPSL is often listed (but always unofficially) as “4th Division” in the USA (alongside USL Two and NPSL) and is connected to US Adult Soccer. Regionally the nearest club playing is in Boise. Efforts to establish a “Cascadia Division” of teams in Washington and Oregon is ongoing. The UPSL has previously announced Cultures United, Sporting International and Thurston County FC. The UPSL features Spring and Fall seasons with clubs able to play in either or both depending on what works for them. The Cascadia Division hopes to play matches in Fall 2021.
How to get in: Apply, be accepted and pay yearly and seasonal fees.
The Evergreen Premier League (EPLWA) was established in 2013 and is affiliated with Washington State Adult Soccer and US Adult Soccer. The EPLWA is unofficially considered as part of the 5th or 6th tier in US Soccer. This has little to do with the strength of the teams or the standard of play. It’s more about US Adult Soccer’s recognition of national amateur leagues in the 4th level and “state” leagues in the 5th level. The EPLWA does have USASA State Premier League status. The league lists 11 clubs, though some took 2021 off. In state soccer circles both club operators and college level players consider the EPLWA a highly competitive and well-run organization.
How to get in: Apply, be accepted and pay yearly fees.
US Open Cup: EPLWA clubs can apply in the Open Division.
What’s Next For The WWPL?
The Western Washington Premier League has always had big goals. The Steelheads joined the WWPL in 2019 and promptly won the championship. In 2021 the Fish remain alive to repeat but currently sit in second place 8 points behind Wenatchee All-Stars FC. The WWPL is establishing divisions and a promotion-relegation structure. There are currently 12 clubs and 14 teams over two divisions. The WWPL is not an official “State Premier League” under US Adult soccer. It would likely be considered 6th division along with scores of other similar leagues around America (again, completely subjective and up for debate.) In recent months the WWPL has seen a presentation from the UPSL in regards to bringing the entire First Division into that national league. The initial proposal was voted down by a majority of clubs. More recently, the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA) has begun talking with the WWPL about a possible connection via that league’s “NISA Nation” movement. The WWPL has scheduled a meeting for late July to update member clubs on the directions open to the league in 2022. It is believed that NISA details will be a part of that meeting. The WWPL and NISA have entered into a non-disclosure agreement over their current discussions.
How to get in: The Steelheads are currently members of the WWPL.
US Open Cup: WWPL clubs can apply in the Open Division.
Steelheads Like To Jump
Steelheads like to jump. It’s true in nature and it is also true of Snohomish County FC. We might take our time deciding which way to jump, but jumping is always the goal. Jumping means growing. It means testing the boundaries of what we can do on the pitch and as an organization. But timing is everything. Knowing when, how high and how far.