Cosmos Start NPSL Members Cup On Saturday

The club heads to Chattanooga on August 10
Aug 7, 2019

Independent soccer in the United States will take a giant step with the kick off of the NPSL Members Cup on Saturday, August 10.

Six National Premier Soccer League teams -- Chattanooga FC, Detroit City FC, Michigan Stars, Napa Valley 1839 FC, Milwaukee Torrent, and the New York Cosmos -- will begin its inaugural 10-game fall season.

"I think its critically important to demonstrate that independent clubs in the U.S. are alive and well and hungry for competition," said Tim Kelly, chairman and co-founder of the Chattanooga FC. "There are a lot of smaller independent clubs in this country that need to see a path forward, and without a system of promotion, that is sometimes difficult. But hopefully the Member's Cup will illustrate that there is a desire for extended season competition with clubs like ours in the U.S."

Detroit City FC founder and co-owner Sean Mann agreed and elaborated about the league's significance.

"For us, it's providing our fans a longer season," he said. "It's also an important step to branch off and build off the traditional summer season that's heavily relied upon college guys and developing the new model with older guys."

Given the club's background and recent successes, every match might seem like a playoff game. 

"You look at the NPSL and where [Members Cup] teams landed in the playoffs and you see quite a few of them," Mann said. "Teams made it to the national competition. Every game is going to definitely be a higher caliber. It's going to be tense. You're not going to be allowed to drop points. That's what our current league is now. There are teams when you are expecting three points. You're not going to be able to do that here."

Kelly said the league will be "very competitive!"

"The Cosmos playoff run is a testament to how grueling the competition in the NPSL can be," he added, and I am sure the Members Cup will just carry that forward."

Kelly would love to see more teams added for 2020 and beyond. It will depend on team owners who want to spend more money and who feel their club is ready for a much more challenging competition.

"I have personally been working very hard for the last two years to expand the possibilities for independent clubs in the U.S.," he said. "So, I am hopeful there will be multiple options for clubs like ours- and their fans- who want to play a longer season."

The Members Cup will kick off with two matches on Aug. 10. Milwaukee will host Napa Valley in the very first game at 7 p.m. ET, followed by Chattanooga welcoming the Cosmos at 7:30 p.m. ET. The schedule will run through Oct. 26.

Here's a quick look at the six teams competing in the league:

Chattanooga FC

Chattanooga FC won the Southeast Conference crown with a 7-2-1 record while outscoring its foes, 29-11. Four members of the team earned Southeast Conference honors -- Bill Elliott as coach of the year, goalkeeper Phil D'Amico, midfielder Juan Hernandez and forward Felipe Oliveira. Hernandez also was selected to the NPSL Best XI. Chattanooga has reached the NPSL final four times in the past decade (2010, 2012, 2014, 2015). The team plays at Finley Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Detroit City FC

Detroit City FC finished atop the Great Lakes Conference with a 10-1-3 record and 33 points, while outscoring its opponents, 39-6. It fell to SC Cleveland in the national quarterfinals in a shootout after playing to a 2-2 draw. Three players were named to the Great Lakes Conference XI for their outstanding play -- defender Moussa Gueye, midfielder Bakie Goodman, and forward Max Todd (nine goals in 11 games). Forward Shawn Claud Lawson, who led the Midwest Region in goalscoring (12 goals in 13 appearances), finished fifth in the league. The club calls Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck, Mich., home.

Michigan Stars FC

Michigan Stars FC took fifth place in the Great Lakes Conference with a 3-6-5 mark. The team relied on its defense (17 goals allowed) as it struggled to find the net (14 goals). Two players were chosen to the Great Lakes Conference XI for their standout performances -- goalkeeper Tatenda Mkuruva and midfielder Steven Juncaj. George Juncaj is the head coach. The team plays at the Ultimate Soccer Arena in Pontiac, Mich.

Napa Valley 1839 FC

Napa Valley 1839 finished in sixth place in the Golden Gate Conference with a 3-6-2, as it was outscored, 26-17. Three Napa Valley players were picked to the Golden Gate XI -- defender Mike Muniz, midfielder Osvaldo Velazques Vazquez, and forward Francisco Mendoza. Muniz also was named to the NPSL National Best XI. Napa Valley is coached by Rogelio Ochoa and plays at Dodd Stadium in Napa, Calif.

Milwaukee Torrent

The team did not compete in the NPSL during the 2019 season but has enjoyed success in the past. Marcelo Fontana is its head coach. The squad plays at Hart Park in Wauwatosa, Wis.

New York Cosmos

The Cosmos, who finished in first place in the North Atlantic Conference with a 13-0-1 record, played Miami FC in the NPSL National Championship. The team's depth has been a factor in its success. Forward Bledi Bardic was chosen to the NPSL Best XI. Coached by former team captain and MLS veteran Carlos Mendes, the Cosmos are led on the field by current captain Danny Szetela.

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