PDL vs. NPSL

Discussion in 'United Soccer Leagues' started by olujosh, Feb 3, 2007.

  1. olujosh

    olujosh Member

    Aug 23, 1999
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Country:
    United States
    I had the pleasure of interviewing someone from the NPSL the year that the league started (2002? 2003?), and like many soccer people, I was curious as to why PDL teams were leaving the USL for this new league. I remember being told that the NPSL had a vastly different business model than the USL where the franchise fees were much less and the annual league dues were much more affordable, and how that money was used a lot differently than the USL.

    It's been a while since the interview, and honestly, I haven't really followed the NPSL (my sports plate is about as full as humanly possible, so it's hard to follow EVERYTHING) so I was hoping someone could explain the league's business model, their philosophy, and why they feel that the NPSL is a better amateur soccer option than the PDL.

    My kneejerk reaction after the interview, having followed and supported the PDL for a number of years, was...do we really need competition at this point? I remember liking some of the ideas, and I'm a firm believer that competition is USUALLY a good thing, but I thought then (and still think now) that American soccer is still a little too young for it.

    I'm sure this topic has been discussed before, but now that the league is 5 years old, I'd also like to know how things are going. Obviously the league is growing...so things must be going pretty well.

    I was also hoping, since I know many NPSL and USL people frequent these boards, that someone could shed some light on the subject of PDL vs. NPSL. Mostly, I'd like to know what the overall opinion of the NPSL is and what people think about the business model, the level of play between the two leagues. For example, are we starting to see NPSL players taken in the MLS and USL drafts?

    For the fans, I'm curious...do you support both leagues? Do some of you have a strong loyalty toward the USL so you ignore the NPSL? I just don't get a sense that the NPSL is respected enough, and I'm wonder if that observation is accurate, and why that is.

    Another way to approach this discussion is...if you're anti-PDL, what's your beef? And if you're anti-NPSL....what's YOUR beef?

    Lots of questions, lots of angles to approach this with. Hopefully, what I just wrote wasn't too scatterbrained, because I have a lot of questions and curiousities. Hopefully this thread can educate some people (including myself) on the differences between the two leagues.
     
  2. Oh_Teddy_Teddy

    Apr 7, 2003
    Mountain View, CA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Country:
    United States
    I really don't have inside knowledge to answer many of your questions, but I think the differences are more off the field than on. What I mean is, the quality of play, at least out west, seems to be similar (I attended San Jose Frogs and Redwood City Ruckus NPSL games, and San Francisco Seals home matches in the PDL.) They seemed to pick from a similar player pool, (college players on summer break, a few local club players, one or two over the hill guys hanging on, and possibly a couple foreign players who are probably also students). Both have age limits for players, I believe, and I know that both allow a certain amount of overage players. In the Open Cup, the only place that the teams would play each other (exhibitions have to this point not been allowed because of animosity between the leagues), the NPSL has more than held its own. It is interesting that the open cup has the NPSL teams enter a round earlier, so thay can be eliminated by other amatuer sides before the PDL round.

    The front office organizations seem much more organized and professional on the PDL level. There is a thread going on right now, I think in the SJ Earthquakes forum, about the lack of quality of the NPSL website. Last year, when the Frogs were in the NPSL, they had a game at Redwood City canceled because there was no where to play. Even with the increased costs, the Frogs have moved to the PDL this year to participate in what they believe is a more professionally run league.

    Sorry for being long winded, but I hope that this was helpful
     
  3. jeffconn

    jeffconn Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Norfolk, VA, USA
    Club:
    Hampton Roads Piranhas
    Country:
    United States
    About the only problem i have with the 2 leagues is the overlapping of their "territories". In 2007, there will be 10 PDL clubs in California, and the NPSL will have 7 California clubs, i think. Some cities will have 2 clubs within a few miles of each other, and they won't play each other unless they meet in the US Open Cup. Put all the California clubs together, then split the clubs geographically to create some close rivalries.

    El Paso will have both a PDL and NPSL club. So will Long Island, New York. And the travel expenses would be lessened and each club could have a cross-town rival if the two leagues merged. Since most PDL and NPSL clubs are run on a shoestring budget, any money they could save by reduced travel would really help the clubs break even.
     
  4. CaliforniaSoccer

    Mar 21, 2006
    NPSL does not have age limit restrictions like the PDL (8 over 23 only, I believe and 3 U-19's on the roster). League fees are much lower in the NPSL, but you get what you pay for I guess (lack of a decent web site to start for the NPSL, some teams play at the local park).
    Player pool does consist of mostly local talent, so from that standpoint NPSL and PDL probably draw from the same type of players. NPSL did shorten their season this year it appears to accomadate the college players.
    We could only hope the leagues would join some day, that has been discussed at length, it would be best for every one involved but....................
     
  5. rms5555

    rms5555 Member

    Aug 2, 2006
    Eastpointe, MI
    Club:
    Reading FC
    Country:
    United States
    IIRC the NPSL franchise fee is a very low $2,500 compared to the $25,000 for a PDL team.
     
  6. keem-o-sabi

    keem-o-sabi Member

    Sep 7, 2005
    Toronto
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Country:
    United States
    NPSL Franchise fee is now 5k, PDL franchise fee is 50k
    Performance Bond: NPSL 5k, PDL 15k
    Annual Fees: NPSL 1600, PDL 4250

    There is a massive difference in your first year start up costs PDL is 69,250 vs NPSL 11,600. I know Cali and I have had it out about the website. It is true, it isn't the best and we in the East are trying to make sure everything is going to be more professional with the NPSL. THe PDL has full time office staff, where until 2007 the NPSL did not. That was where the lack of professionalism started, the web people did a terrible job in my opinion, especially for someone who is getting paid. I hope that things are better this year in terms of updates on the site which seems to be the biggest complaint about the league.

    When Queen City FC was deciding between leagues (we did come to an agreement to purchase a PDL team and move it to Buffalo) we spoke to three MLS scouts about the quality of the leagues and what they could tell us about them. The leagues are the same in level of play. The best teams are just as good as one another, the awful teams are just as bad. Facilities go the same. Speaking with some PDL players, they say they play in terrible places at some grounds just as the NPSL has some terrible places.

    I wish the USL would let NPSL vs. PDL happen. They try and block any exhibition matches that are arranged and threaten the PDL teams when they hear about them. Thank goodness there are sensible individuals on boards of PDL sides as they are always looking to play matches including NPSL teams. We drew the Toronto Lynx in January at a facility that has a full sized field indoors. We should have won that one, as we outchanced them really badly, our finishing was terrible. Had we had a striker with killer instincts we probably would have won 4 nil.

    Calisoccer always brings up good points that the NPSL should be taking care of, and I'll make sure they do. The East will have many more votes than the West and Midwest combined next year and we're hell bent on professionalism.

    As for the original question, the leagues are still run the same. PDL the Management dictates, the NPSL the teams dictate.

    The Frogs left for the PDL due to the same professionalism issues that Calisoccer had brought up. I totally agree with him, and if I wasn't representing the entire East Coast at the AGM and had been privy to the proposals, I would have voted for his idea's. Hopefully next year I can help administer some of them.

    Sorry for the long-windedness. I believe we made a good choice in going with the NPSL this year. It allows us to have more money to spend on making our atmosphere as professional as possible at Queen City FC becuase we aren't in the hole 70k before we even kick a ball.
     
  7. Oh_Teddy_Teddy

    Apr 7, 2003
    Mountain View, CA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Country:
    United States
    Hi keem-o-sabi,

    Thanks for filling in the gaps in information that we did not know. I was unaware that the east coast teams were looking to upgrade the league, for instance. I have been following your posts here for a long time and appreviate your enthusiasm and what you are doing with the Team in Buffalo. I am in the San Francisco area, but should I ever get to Buffalo, I'll catch one of your games and buy you a pint afterwords!!!
     
  8. olujosh

    olujosh Member

    Aug 23, 1999
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Country:
    United States
    I don't have a problem with being long-winded, as long as you bring good info like that to the table....

    The things that I consistently heard about the NPSL (and the WPSL as well) were things like canceling a game because they couldn't a find a place to play....or games being forfeited because a team couldn't field a full squad...etc. So it's good that I wasn't being fed mis-information.

    Could someone explain the idea of management making the decisions vs. the teams making the decisions? How are things THAT different? Does each team get a vote on league decisions? I guess a good way to put it....if the league wanted to add a three-point shot (or some rediculous rule change)...the NPSL teams would each have a vote and in the USL, the competition committee and the league front office would make that decision?

    So, from what I understand, there NOW is a central league office for the NPSL? Did they think they could avoid having a central league office, or were there not the proper resources in the first few years?

    I think it's great that the eastern clubs are trying to make things more professional. It's a shame to hear about the problems the western clubs are having. Now that there are a LOT more PDL clubs in the west...do you think that we'll see some NPSL jump back? If travel really was more of an issue.

    In terms of talent...don't you think that it would increase the level of play and would eventually help players move on to the next level if there were LESS teams for the pro teams to scout? I mean, there's like 60 or so PDL teams...and in addition to that, how many NPSL teams? So teams have to keep an eye on almost 100 clubs...maybe I'm wrong.

    I'm not criticizing the decision to join the NPSL, but I'd be curious to get an inside look into what went into the decision. I'm sure you looked into the PDL before you joined the NPSL...what were the major selling points that made you pick the NPSL? What I've heard most often is the financial aspect...and while someone said "you get what you pay for" (and the western teams are good examples)...did your club not like how the PDL money was spent? Can you give some insight to how they said the money was used?
     
  9. jeffconn

    jeffconn Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Norfolk, VA, USA
    Club:
    Hampton Roads Piranhas
    Country:
    United States
    olujosh, there are around 1250 soccer playing colleges in the USA alone feeding those PDL and NPSL squads.
    http://www.bigsoccer.com/forum/showthread.php?t=420348
    In my opinion, there needs to be even MORE teams all over the USA and Canada. More clubs will develop more gifted players. And i don't think the new clubs in the PDL or NPSL will have any trouble finding enough talented players.

    Oh, BTW, i believe some NPSL clubs like the Chico Rooks used almost exclusively overage players. Someone can correct me if i'm wrong.
     
  10. CaliforniaSoccer

    Mar 21, 2006
    I am very UNconvinced that the "teams running the league" is really a good way to go. Last year there was some serious controversy with the Albuquerque/Sacramento play off game. I don't know all the details but each team thought they were hosting the game. Not sure what happened but Alb. counted one game as two, but the league never informed any one. Sacramento tied their last game thinking it would be enough to host the Western Conf. final based the official league standings. To their surprise, Alb. added 3 extra points after all the games were played. Make any sense??? Not sure. But these are the sorts of things that plague the league. If you can sort those shenanigans out Keem-o-, we would be all for it out west here.

    I think only Redwood City forfeited a game last year, because they did not have field. But Salinas did show up with something like 7 players and were thumped 15-2 (ironically by Redwood), which doesn't really doesn't look to good for the league.

    Chico, Sacramento and Sonoma probably used more over 23's than a PDL team would. As a fan, I don't like the age rule, I enjoy watching older players, if I want to watch youth soccer (which I do probably every day) I will go watch a college game. Its nice when a team can field the best players available to them. That is a whole nother can of worms, suddenly when you are 23, you cant "develop" any more. But the PDL and NPSL have no problems fielding 7 foreign players. (Actually don't know if the NPSL has any foreign player limit). Which means, a 23 year American may lose his spot, but a 22 year old foreigner will keep his.
     
  11. panicfc

    panicfc Member+

    Dec 22, 2000
    In my chair, typing
    Country:
    United States
    For the high amateur level of soccer that the PDL and NPSL offer, we can never have enough teams in my opinion. There are thousands of potential players, and it would be best if every player had the opportunity to play on one of these teams.

    Player pool is never a problem.

    As for scouting - the best teams will always have eyes and ears. If they are doing their homework they will check with coaches in the various leagues that they respect and ask who are the guys on other teams that need to be checked out. A few phone calls, emails, check a few websites and hope a game doesn't get cancelled and they are set.

    As for lack of "professionalism", that will take time for the NPSL, but with more owners taking that approach it will become fundamental.
     
  12. olujosh

    olujosh Member

    Aug 23, 1999
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Country:
    United States
    I'm all for having lots of teams. In my opinion, I think every region should have a handful of teams. However, I think if you have too many, you'll dilute the talent. The goal of the PDL is to provide college kids with a high level of play during the summer, and if the top college kids are spread out among 100-120 teams rather than 60-70, then the talent is dilluted. I'm not saying that there aren't enough college players to fill these teams, I would just like to see the level of play remain high. I just think that the way that you get the word out about good players, is by having a professionally run league.

    As far as the age limits, I don't really have a problem with them. The purpose of the league is to develop young/college age players, so keeping those rules in place is important.
     
  13. panicfc

    panicfc Member+

    Dec 22, 2000
    In my chair, typing
    Country:
    United States
    I wouldn't be so worried about the guy who is rated the best at 19, because they aren't always the best at 22 or 26, so more guys playing is better.

    Look at England - they've got 92 teams that are professional and hundreds more that aren't. More players on the field is always better.
     
  14. SoccerPrime

    SoccerPrime Moderator
    Staff Member

    Apr 14, 2003
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Country:
    United States
    In Florida, a state-based league is starting up, the Florida Elite Soccer League. www.feslsoccer.com
    And while they have different long-term goals than either NPSL or PDL, they are essentially at the same level.

    Are there other state-leagues like the FESL out there?
     
  15. CaliforniaSoccer

    Mar 21, 2006
    I am not aware of any league like that, although it is a very good idea. I would like to see a league like this "compliment" the NPSL and PDL instead of competing with them. What do you think about the "California Premier League" running from October/November - February/March?
     
  16. panicfc

    panicfc Member+

    Dec 22, 2000
    In my chair, typing
    Country:
    United States
    A lot of the players would still be in college.
     
  17. SL Benfiquista

    Feb 11, 2006
    San Leandro, CA
    Many would say there is indeed a league like that already in place here in Northern California. The California Premier Soccer Association which is connected to the SFSFL. The SF Glens are one of the better clubs in this league and they are affiliated with the San Francisco Seals of the PDL. Many of the Seals non-college players play for the Glens. There are also a few former pros in this league, including Shawn Medved.

    Some very good soccer played in this league.

    http://www.sfsfl.com/
     
  18. SoccerPrime

    SoccerPrime Moderator
    Staff Member

    Apr 14, 2003
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Country:
    United States
    The FESL starts this summer for its first season, but the plan isn't to base the league exclusively on college players, so a non-summer schedule isn't that far out.
     
  19. OneEyeJack

    OneEyeJack New Member

    Jan 10, 2006
    Club:
    San Francisco Seals
    Great thread. On my site the American Soccer Project we are debating the same thing. http://web.mac.com/ecampsromero/iWeb/Site/Blog/Blog.html

    I was trying to hold out for a professional option but being in the N. California area it would take forever to save enought for the USL-1. I am now seriously considering amateur soccer and am having this same internal debate. I can tell you that from an active potential investor the NPSL sure makes a lot of sense. I would like to take my club pro some day so the USL which has a pro league is attractive. Who knows the NPSL has grown and if it continues perhaps a professional level will emerge. I was going to do this myself but if anyone has tallied the PDL vs NPSL in open cup over the last five years I would appreciate it. Kind of silly that the leagues can't compete with exhibitions.
     
  20. keem-o-sabi

    keem-o-sabi Member

    Sep 7, 2005
    Toronto
    Club:
    Liverpool FC
    Country:
    United States
    To answer more of the questions put forth in the PDL vs. NPSL comparison:

    Quote:
    The things that I consistently heard about the NPSL (and the WPSL as well) were things like canceling a game because they couldn't a find a place to play....or games being forfeited because a team couldn't field a full squad...etc. So it's good that I wasn't being fed mis-information.

    Again those were problems on the West Coast to which I only heard of via here. Problems I hope are fixed this year, as it is important to project a professionally run image

    Could someone explain the idea of management making the decisions vs. the teams making the decisions? How are things THAT different? Does each team get a vote on league decisions? I guess a good way to put it....if the league wanted to add a three-point shot (or some rediculous rule change)...the NPSL teams would each have a vote and in the USL, the competition committee and the league front office would make that decision?

    Each team gets a vote on league decisions. You are correct with your rule change example. There were rumours that the USL was bringing back shootouts this year, this year as well. All the owners in the NPSL debate these things and hopefully concensus is a smart way to do things.

    So, from what I understand, there NOW is a central league office for the NPSL? Did they think they could avoid having a central league office, or were there not the proper resources in the first few years?

    There were not enough resources I believe. But don't hold me to that, They have realized that there is a need to be much more professional. The SJ Frogs had brought that to the table at the AGM. I liked all his idea's and I hope we can consider implementing most of them next year. He wanted to increase the monthly due's teams pay by 800%, so that was a little too much for us, but something along those lines probably would aid in the league being even more professionally run in terms of website maintenance, etc that most seem to worry about

    I think it's great that the eastern clubs are trying to make things more professional. It's a shame to hear about the problems the western clubs are having. Now that there are a LOT more PDL clubs in the west...do you think that we'll see some NPSL jump back? If travel really was more of an issue.

    In terms of talent...don't you think that it would increase the level of play and would eventually help players move on to the next level if there were LESS teams for the pro teams to scout? I mean, there's like 60 or so PDL teams...and in addition to that, how many NPSL teams? So teams have to keep an eye on almost 100 clubs...maybe I'm wrong.

    I'm not criticizing the decision to join the NPSL, but I'd be curious to get an inside look into what went into the decision. I'm sure you looked into the PDL before you joined the NPSL...what were the major selling points that made you pick the NPSL? What I've heard most often is the financial aspect...and while someone said "you get what you pay for" (and the western teams are good examples)...did your club not like how the PDL money was spent? Can you give some insight to how they said the money was used?

    We looked into the PDL for an entire year before joining the NPSL. It came down to 1 major factor and that was money. After speaking with most of the Owners in the PDL (literally almost all of them...at least those that contacted me back as I had put an email/phone call into every single one over the course of 3 months) to find how they stay afloat, pay the bills, make money etc, we really liked the PDL. The PDL is a very nice organization, Steve Clamp and Tim Hold are outstanding people to work with. We had 7 investment groups line up to work with us on this project. They decided against this project for various reasons. 1) We started a youth club along with the men's club and they didn't want to piss off other youth clubs in the area by investing into the club (lost 1 serious candidate becuase of that) 2) We got down to 3 serious candidates (lost 1 to the reason previously) and lost the other two due to the conversations they had with those GM/Owner's that mentored usin this process. Both groups came back to me and said we love the business plan, it is possible to make this viable with the youth club, camps, inner city project, but the men's team is a major drain and would cost way too much. Both told me in their conversations with PDL owner's/gm's, 97% were in the red due to their men's teams. Most made capital back through their youth clubs and camps, but we are in a bigger city and there are tons of camps, and 35 youth clubs to compete with here, so the money isn't going to be flowing for either of those for at least another 7 years (projected). After speaking with the WPSL owners, almost all of them were in the black this past year. That is why they were keen on starting a NPSL division here in the North East. So basically you have five guys here in Buffalo who have just finished graduate school and are giving this a go on their own. We are building our own facility now to help produce long-term viability, and we are increasing the size of our youth clubs by two teams every year (currently have 2 under 12 teams (1 male, 1 female) and one u13 girls side. That is another can of worms in the youth market...you think the NPSL/PDL debate is nasty....try the forming of a second 'premier' youth club in a region of 1.4 million people.

    There are no teams in the area, so I know in California there are a ton ofPDL/NPSL teams. In Buffalo, we had none, now we have Toronto in the PDL, Queen City (our club in Buffalo), Albany (PDL), and Cleveland (PDL). So we have a few teams now within a 5 hour drive of Buffalo and should be adding Erie, St. Catharines, Toronto, Syracuse, Albany, Scranton, Philadelphia, Lancaster PA, to the NPSL next year.
     
  21. Highbury

    Highbury Member

    May 13, 2006
    Philadelphia
    Club:
    Arsenal FC
    Country:
    United States
    Out of curiosity...any chance the Philadelphia team joining will be the FC Delco u-23 team? Or will it be a completely different organization?
     
  22. pcrow

    pcrow New Member

    Feb 24, 2006
    WA
    There are many leagues like the FESL out there. Oregon Premier Soccer League has Timber players in it, the Coast Soccer League in Southern CA, the PCSL in the NW, the new Colorado Amateur Soccer League, the Minnesota Amateur Soccer League, and I'm sure there are many more. Teams from Chicago and Texas seem to beat PDL teams fairly regularly in the open cup...I've even heard of a premier league being started in Montana. A lot of states/regions have premier leagues...and honestly, every region thats big enough should have one.

    That said, just from glancing at the website, the FESL seems to be a step above most premier amateur leagues. Its website blows the NPSL's away.
     
  23. OneEyeJack

    OneEyeJack New Member

    Jan 10, 2006
    Club:
    San Francisco Seals
    keem-o

    Thanks for your post, it helps a lot. While there isn't much debate concerning the finances a one reason I have heard for the PDL is higher visability for players. Also the way the us open cup is geared 8 teams for the pdl versus 8 for the rest. That is an incentive for a potential owner like myself who would really like to get into the cup. Just wanted to throw out a question, what is the temperature like in the NPSL for a future pro league. I understand that you our focusing on getting perhaps full time staff but I get the sense that there is some interest. It would be great to have more professional options.
     
  24. jeffconn

    jeffconn Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Norfolk, VA, USA
    Club:
    Hampton Roads Piranhas
    Country:
    United States
    If there are more, they're VERY well hidden. For most adult players, there's the local city or metro-area league, and that's as high as the pyramid goes. Ideally, there should be 54 state-wide adult leagues (one for each state association), which are fed from the city/metro leagues. In my ideal scenario, the US soccer pyramid would look something like this:

    Div. 1: MLS
    Div. 2: USL-1
    Div. 3: USL-2
    Div. 4: a nationwide no-age-limits amateur league, resembling the NPSL.
    Div. 5: regional leagues like the PCSL, or Cosmopolitan League.
    Div. 6: statewide leagues like the FESL.
    Div. 7: the local city leagues.

    As for staying somewhat on topic, the only good i can see coming from both the NPSL and PDL existing is, if there are disagreements or financial issues, a club can now move to the other organization instead of folding.
     
  25. cristoforo7

    cristoforo7 New Member

    May 14, 2003
    The NPSL has advanced over the PDL in 3 out of 5 matchups (3 out of the last 4)*:

    2006: Sonoma County Sol (NPSL) over Ogden Outlaws (PDL)
    2005: Salinas Valley Samba (NPSL) over Cascade Surge (PDL)
    2004: Sacramento Knights (NPSL) over Spokane Shadow (PDL)
    2004: Colorado Rapids Reserve (PDL) over Chico Rooks (NPSL)
    2003: Fresno Fuego (PDL) over Chico Rooks (NPSL)

    The Rooks were one of the former PDL teams that left to start the NPSL.

    It is also interesting to note how ex-NPSL or future NPSL teams have done in the Open Cup in years either before or after they joned the NPSL. For example:

    In 2006, the Arizona Sahuaros (an NPSL, i.e., MPSL, team in 2003 and 2004, and a PDL team before that) defeated the PDL's BYU team in the Open Cup.

    In 2003, the Milwaukee Bavarians (an NPSL team from 2005 to present) defeated the Des Moines Menace (PDL) and, in the second round, the Reading Rage of the Pro Select League (who then moved down to PDL starting in 2004). In 2004 the Bavarians lost to the Carolina Dynamo of the PDL.

    Last year, en route to the USASA Open Cup (National Cup) championship, the Sonoma County Sol defeated Dallas Roma (who advanced against both Romario's USL-1 Miami FC and Chivas USA in the Open Cup).

    *Technically, the NPSL is 2-0 in advancing against the PDL because the NPSL was officially founded in 2005. However, the MPSL-- which was the original "rebel" league from the PDL--is recognized to have been the "predecessor" league to the NPSL, with a reorganization occurring between the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
     

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