History, politics, people of Oly WA

Category: Soccer (Page 1 of 6)

Cascadia would have qualified for the World Cup

People are dealing with the USMNT crashing out of World Cup qualification in different ways. This is just one way, but it is my way. So, if you came here to criticize my back-of-the-napkin pining then just keep that in mind. This isn’t really a serious analysis of economics or world soccer. This is just me doing what I can to process the loss.

One of the most interesting books I’ve read in the past 10 years has been Soccernomics, a sort of Moneyball-centered book on world soccer. The authors attempt to boil down the essence of national team success to a handful of factors: total population, per capita income and experience in international soccer. While this doesn’t really explain Brazil (poor and really good) or the United States (big, rich and bad) very well, it does explain the difference between Germany and England.
Before I go on, a few notes:

As you might tell, I’m not going to go through the practice of listing players born or somehow connected to Cascadia (Jordan Morris! Kelyn Rowe! DeAndre Yedlin!) and making the bold claim that they’d beat Trinidad and Tobago. We all know they would have. Also I’ve done that before and that’s boring.
The map of Cascadia I’m using is not the bioregional one, but more of the Chile shaped one that Colin Woodard used in American Nations to described the Left Coast. I’m happier with this one, it seems more like a “nation.” And if you came here to tell me that I’m wrong, well, this is all made up anyway and this is my blog. I’ve done this before also.
So, back to soccer and bad math.

So, would a totally fantasy Cascadian Republic have qualified for the World Cup? Short answer: yes. Hurray! I hate you Bruce Arena!
Long answer: absolutely. But we would have had a hard time beating the rest of the United States and Mexico. 
So, first things first, I only took the countries that were in this year’s final qualifying round for North America (sorry Canada, punch your weight already) and added in Cascadia. For Cascadia I took all the counties on the west side of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington and added a bunch in California down to include most of the Bay Area (my map, my rules). I also didn’t include the Cascadian parts of Canada because even though they’d be part of my Republic, I thought why make the napkin more complicated?
So, population and per capita income were pretty easy to figure out once I decided on geography. 
In terms of soccer experience I decided on World Cup games played since it was the first metric I could find. For Cascadia I decided it would be easier to just average the number of games played of every other team. That seemed fair.  Also, in this fantasy world, Cascadia has had decades of independence and developed a strong league system with well-rooted club teams in nearly all their communities. And promotion/relegation Also, don’t tell me how this decades old history would have made my populations and per capita income figures meaningless. 
Then I just ranked the teams by each factor and averaged the rank. Total back of the napkin. And while the United States finished first in this ranking (grumblegrumblegrumble), Cascadia finished near the top, tied with Mexico. 


Average Rank Population Per capita income Experience as WC matches played
United States (-Cascadia) 1 308,660,798 58,030 33
Mexico 3 124,574,795 17,740 53
Cascadia 3 16,452,729 34,751 18
Costa Rica 5 4,919,202 15,750 15
Honduras 5 9,308,042 4,410 9
Trinidad and Tobago 5 1,370,111 30,810 3
Panama 6 4,116,683 20,990 0
This Cascadian Republic is bigger than any of the Central or Caribbean countries and also richer per capita than anyone except the United States. It really did surprise me how much poorer per head Cascadians would be than USers. But our mediocre size and better than average wealth and average experience put us right up there with Mexico.
Mexico, who actually finished at the top of the qualifying group this year. But I’m sure Cascadia would have given them a run for their money.

The best US Open to be held in Pierce County this year isn’t even that US Open. And, it is because it isn’t big and expensive.

People getting kicked out of their homes so landlords can make a windfall.

The county that spent millions of dollars on the venue is giving a tax windfall to their more metropolitan neighbors.

And, when it all comes down later this summer, Piece County will still be in debt over their new golf course.

The US Open Golf tournament, though the most laudable of golf’s big tournaments because of its open format, is really just another television sporting event. The last time an amatuer won the US Open was 1933.

Sure, you may really like golf. This tournament in particular might excite you. I can’t argue about that. And, I’ve argued in favor of government spending on sporting venues when I know in my brain that they don’t make a return to taxpayers or the economy.

Mostly because I think team sports is important in setting a civic identity (so this golf stuff is something totally different for me).

But, people should know there is another US Open kicking off in Pierce County. The US Open Cup is a soccer tournament founded less than two decades after the first US Open golf tournament. And, like the US Open golf tournament (and dozens of other similar soccer tournaments worldwide) is open to any and all.

And, unlike the US Open golf thing, the US Open Cup operates in near obscurity.

On May 13, Tacoma 253 (a brand new team) will face off with the Kitsap Pumas at Mt. Tahoma High School in the first round of the Open Cup. The winner will face off against the Sounders 2 in Tukwila a week later.

I’ve made a habit of trying to get to as many US Open Cup matches as possible. I’ve been to Sumner, when Dox Italia lost to the Sounders U-23s. I was in Bremerton when the old USL Timbers beat the Kitsap Pumas. I’ve been up at the tiny Starfire Stadium in Tukwila to watch the Sounders beat everyone there. And, I’ve been to two finals in Seattle.

Every year during the first few rounds of the Open Cup, soccer pundits seems to fuss around about how we finally make the US Open Cup matter. While I think this is an important discussion, I think it isn’t the fault of the tournament. Its more of a function of how adult club soccer works on the lower levels than the tournament.

Tacoma 253 is literally a brand new team in Pierce County and (as far as I can tell) won’t even play more than two games near Tacoma this year. And, this doesn’t seem to be a rare thing in lower level adult soccer. There’s a lot of flux right now. What the tournament, and possible fans of lower level teams, is stability.

Once we’ve gotten attachments to these clubs, the tournament that involves so many of them, will grow.

And, grow the right way. Because I’m absolutely fine with it the way it is. And, what it is is something totally different than the US Open golf tournament. The games aren’t televised (except for usually the final). I love jamming through and early round night, flipping from internet stream to internet stream, following the action across the country.

I remember one particular night, when I watched the Atlanta Silverbacks play Georgia Revolution being webcast by someone literally holding up a cell phone in the stands. That same night Cal FC (an amatuer team from southern California) blasted the professional (but minor league) Wilmington Hammerheads 4-0. The next round Cal FC upended Portland Timbers 1-0 for a legendary upset.

And, it was all watched by hardcore soccer fans via internet stream.

This is what is beautiful about the US Open Cup. Small high school stadiums, shaky internet streams, live tweeting games not on the internet, rockus upsets by amateurs. Let’s not make this real US Open different, bigger, more televised. Let’s keep it small and dirty. If it gets bigger, its because the teams are more connected, not because there is more sponsorship money.

Halfway there to a soccer specific stadium down here, maybe a new one at Evergreen?

The soccer field next to the big big hill (Field 1) at the Regional Athletic Center in Lacey is about as close as we get to a soccer specific stadium in Thurston County. It has lights and seating for a large crowd (on a grassy hill). But, it lacks a locker room and any area for media coverage.

But, now in new drawings of what Evergreen’s CRC might look like after a major expansion of Evergreen State College’s recreational facilities, we have the makings of a proto soccer specific stadium.

The field would be synthetic, so we’d have a year round, all weather surface.

Like the RAC, this field would also have a berm, at least allowing for larger crowds. This certainly isn’t a typical stadium, which would include at least bleacher seating and possibly be covered. But, heck, it isn’t nothing.

Also, since the field is directly next door to the CRC proper, semi-pro and high level amateur teams would have access to locker rooms.

The only thing this field would lack that the RAC would have would be lights.

Also, I assume (and this is where I’m headed) if we wanted an EPLWA, PDL or NPSL team, that some sort of gate would be needed. Because, hard to run a team (even a high level amateur team) if you can’t charge admission, right? Am I wrong?

So, in the end, the drawings sure look nice. But, before we get anywhere, the funding of the CRC renovations (and there are a lot more in addition to the new field) have to be funded. The money will be coming from the students at Evergreen, so we’ll see if they end up voting in the changes.

So far a Vote No group has already formed. Voting goes through early March.

Why I’m really excited about the Oly Town FC Artesians. Even if I don’t like indoor soccer

Sure, I’m not the biggest fan of indoor soccer. Sure, its fun. Its no futsal.

That said, I couldn’t be more excited for the Oly Town FC Artesians this year.

First off, Brandon Sparks is pretty awesome. He’s the hard worker behind Olysports, a very worth your time local sports blog that does all of the little things right.

So, secondly, if you remember the Tumwater Pioneers, then (in my opinion) everything good associated with that team had something to do with Brandon. He didn’t run that team the way he’s been put in charge of the Artesians, so we can expect to see more of the good with this new effort.

But, yes. Brandon is a good thing.

Otherwise, its great to see organized semi-pro soccer of any sort back in Olympia or Tumwater or Lacey. Especially, this sort of league. I love that we’re coming into the Western Indoor Soccer League, and mostly because it has a home-brew feel to it. The league was formed by a group of owners that were upset by the politics involved in a more national league.

A lot of these same owners just got done with their first season in a sister outdoor league called the Evergreen Premier League. This is another home-brew league born out of frustration with national systems. And, for me, this is the real target: a semi-pro outdoor soccer team in northern Thurston County (hopefully Olympia).

I’m not too picky about where an Olympia soccer team should land, but if its a bunch of local Cascadian soccer entrepreneurs going their own way. Then that’s the way for me too.

There are of course some other considerations too. The Artesians indoor have their own very nice facility. But, an outdoor team would have to play in a high school stadium for the time being. Or, a recreational soccer field. We don’t have a soccer specific facility in Thurston County that could support crowds of more than a few dozen.

We should address that (possibly build stands next too one of the fields out at the Thurston RAC), but in the short term the Oly Town FC Artesians sound like a great idea. I can’t wait.

Summer archive post: Soccer history, two stories about Puget Sound

First, you might not have known, but soccer has a deep and rich history in Cascadia (from a submission I put into GoalWa):

This isn’t a thorough history of high level Puget Sound area soccer,
but rather a quick overview of what I could find in a few places about
the earliest soccer in the area. I drew solely from articles I could
find at Chronicling America and the Internet Archive.
I put my emphasis on adult intercity soccer, ignoring mentions of
international soccer (there seemed to be some friendlies played in
Seattle) and school soccer.

The years I was able to find resources were basically from 1906
through the early 1920′s. That said, these years seem to represent a
high water mark for local soccer.

The Seattle Wanderers traveled to Bainbridge Island to play the Port Blakely
team at Pleasant Beach in 1906. This game, and the Wanderers
themselves, are the earliest reference to Seattle soccer I could find.
Below this article is an interesting reminder of how old some issues in
soccer really are. The article is about why the game itself is called
“soccer,” reminding more mainstream fans of the full name of the sport
of association football.

But, did you know its also true that Olympia itself (tiny little Oly!) has its own rich history of club soccer. This includes a trip into what I think is the best sporting tournament in America, the U.S. Open Cup:

The 1973 campaign by the Olympia Olys in the Challenge Cup turned out a
little better. They won their first round game on February 11 against
the Rainier Brewers 4-1, but a couple of weeks later, they dropped 4-2
against the San Jose Portuguese. That team would end up losing to
eventual champions Maccabi Los Angeles.

Club soccer in western Washington was different back in the 70s. Most
semi-pro teams played in the state soccer league, which kicked off in
the early 1950s and at its peak was a three division system. Olympia’s
first entry into the league was in 1965. That team played at Stevens
Field, the old high school stadium just south of the Lincoln School.

Remember history is deep. Its varied. The history you know is often there because someone wrote it down. The saying “history is written by the winners” is so true, that its not even funny. But, we can look beyond that first telling of history, digitize way more stuff than we ever had before, and go back and relearn what we know about ourselves.

Pretty, cheaper and better for fans. Great new indoor soccer league, I wish it was a futsal leauge

I’m glad the new Western Indoor Soccer League is coming online. The old national minor league indoor teams around here had been associated with just seemed so disconnected. And, there was a bit of drama in there that I didn’t like.

And, most importantly, I think local leagues should be local. Sure, organized with some sort of national system (like US Club Soccer), but local teams controlling local leagues. Just makes sense.

But, where I wish these team owners had changed their approach would be to abandon the historic tangent that is indoor soccer. In no where else in the world does anyone play our version of indoor soccer. Its odd in that way. Our version seems to be based on a need to use underutilized indoor hockey rinks. They are laid out almost exactly the same, with team boxes and tall walls that keep the ball in play.

Futsal is just a better sport. The rest of the world plays futsal, which more closely resembles actual soccer.

I’d even say that futsal is more exciting. And, after watching more than 10 indoor games right on the walls, indoor is plenty exciting on its own.

What I’ve read makes me believe that futal would also be cheaper to implement. Mostly what worries me is the need to essentially replicate hockey arenas to play what should be a simple sport. Futsal can be played anywhere basketball or volleyball is played. It is just another series of lines on the same gym surface. Even if you’re buying a futsal floor, they can be purchased in the neighborhood of $10,000, which is near what an indoor field (with turf and walls) can be set up for.


The biggest argument for me is fan experience. The indoor arenas I’ve seen around here have pretty bad fan experiences. Small metal bleachers awkwardly arranged around an indoor arena, I mostly ended up standing, and I felt I was in the way of people trying to walk by. The facilities are obviously built for recreational players with a fan experience jammed in.

Even if you took an average high school gym and laid a portable futsal court, you would increase the fan experience by 100 percent.

And, according to FIFA indoor isn’t real soccer. And, they’re right.

Why can’t Olympia get some sort of semi-pro soccer going on? Or, we need the Tall Boys (someone help Brandon out)

In the next few weeks, between the Evergreen Premiere League, the National Premier Soccer League NW and the good old PDL, there will be three different non-pro/non-amateur leagues kicking off in this state.

And, none of them have a club in Olympia or even Thurston County.

The last time we sniffed at a local semi-pro league, it was the good old Tumwater Pioneers. They ended up folding after just one year. Even though the soccer was great, their results weren’t. And, apparently, the financial returns weren’t either.

We even have had Olympia semi-pro teams in the distant and not so distant past.

So, as we’ve seen teams become established in Bremerton, Bellingham, Everett and even Vancouver, Olympia has failed to put anything on the map. What is it about Olympia that has prevented anyone from coming forward with a team?

Last fall, Brandon Sparks (Oly Sports Blog Brandon) came forward with a pretty smart of thorough outline for an Olympia team in the ELPWA

Why Olympia?: The cities of Olympia, Lacey and
Tumwater are home to over 108,000 residents and Thurston County’s
population is over 250,000. There is only one professional or
semi-professional team in the area – the Tumwater Pioneers indoor soccer
team – and no direct sports competition in the summer. The area has had
great success supporting soccer over the last two summers when over
1,200 fans flocked to watch the Sounders U23s and Portland Timbers U23s
play at Tumwater Stadium. The area is home to multiple large and active
youth soccer organizations including Blackhills FC, Puget Sound Slammers
and Thurston County United and men’s college programs at Saint
Martin’s, Evergreen and South Puget Sound.

Why the EPLWA?: The first reason is simple: cost.
The EPLWA has been designed to be budget friendly charging just $1,000
in league fees. This allows for teams to put more money back into their
communities and programs and will allow teams to be more financially
stable over their first few seasons. An EPLWA team can compete at a high
level – potentially participating in the US Open Cup – for
significantly less money than a PDL team with the same opportunities for
generating revenue.

As far as I know, no one responded back to him.

I hope Brandon doesn’t lose heart. I hope he keeps his idea out there for next season, that we get a team together.

Here’s to the Tall Boys.

The Olympia Olys in the Open Cup and semi-pro soccer

If you take a close look, the early 1970s seemed to be the high-water mark for competitive club soccer in Olympia. The Olympia Vikings and the Olympia Olys both played in the top division of the State Soccer League. Both also competed in what we now call the U.S. Open Cup (then called the National Challenge Cup).

Quick break here, but the “Olympia Olys” is just about the most awesome team name ever. I wish someone would do a modern logo for that team. I’d buy a t-shirt.

The 1972 Olympia Vikings were the first Thurston County team to compete in the national cup and quickly dropped out when they were beaten 6-1 in a Bay Area, California game against the “Concordia Club.”

The 1973 campaign by the Olympia Olys in the Challenge Cup turned out a little better. They won their first round game on February 11 against the Rainier Brewers 4-1, but a couple of weeks later, they dropped 4-2 against the San Jose Portuguese. That team would end up losing to eventual champions Maccabi Los Angeles.

Club soccer in western Washington was different back in the 70s. Most semi-pro teams played in the state soccer league, which kicked off in the early 1950s and at its peak was a three division system. Olympia’s first entry into the league was in 1965. That team played at Stevens Field, the old high school stadium just south of the Lincoln School.

By the late 1970s, the State Soccer League died away. In the 1980s, in the wake of the death of the NASL (and the top division Seattle Sounders) FC Seattle and the Western Washington City League started up.

I found a lot of soccer history of this era in a Seattle Times archive available from the Seattle Public Library. It is mostly back-of-the-sports-page sort of stuff and there’s a lot in there. At some point, someone could go through the entire archive and pull out a pretty complete history. It was interesting to me that even though the Olympia clubs in this era made the Seattle paper, when I took a look if there was any coverage from Olympia newspapers, I didn’t find any.

Also, take a look at the Evergreen Premier League. This is a very recent effort to put together a sort of open (not summer collegiate) semi-pro league in western Washington. So far, they’ve gotten a lot of interest, including a nascent effort by our own Brandon Sparks to get something going.

(The greater) Olympia (area, well Tumwater) has a (semi) pro (indoor) soccer team (for now)

Boy, how did this one get by me? The Sound Sound FC Shock, an indoor soccer team that plays in the Nortwest Division of the PASL, will play their home schedule in Tumwater:

South Sound Shock FC has received an offer that was too good to refuse from Tumwater Indoor Sports Center and Marian Bowers, owner of Tacoma Stars Pro-PASL team and NW PASL Premier League manager, to play at her new facility in Tumwater. Her brand new facility and field are available to SSFC on Saturday nights, this was a huge drawback to us at Gig Harbor because we were told a month ago that we would have to move our games to Sundays. The other teams that will have to travel to play SSFC will appreciate the opportunity to play on Saturdays as it works better for everyone. Saturdays are also more convenient and fun for both our sponsors and players. 

Tumwater Indoor Sports Center has a brand new field and set of boards, the field is a little larger than Gig Harbor so it will provide a better environment for high level PASL play. We believe we can get more fans into this arena and we also have the possibility to serve beer at this facility.

I was about three minutes from bundling everyone up and making the 10 minutes drive to the arena. You can’t beat $5 for a game and I’ll be at least making the next game.

Thurston County Premier FC (Local summer semi-pro sports Part 2)

2. Second most exciting is the emergence of a Super 20 soccer team.  First under the moniker of Capital City FC Inc. and now Thurston County Premier FC, this team will play a two month season in the United Soccer League’s Super 20 Northwest Division. If  you find that last sentence sort of arduous, there is a reason for that. While its a great that there is a local team in the deep and broad USL setup, its not at a level that most community’s around us are already at. Bremerton, Tacoma, Everett already play a step above in the Premier Development League level of the USL, which draws collegiate and actual professional players.

Also, TCPFC seems to be one side of a division between two different organizations with the same plan, to bring high level (possibly PDL) semi-pro soccer to Thurston County. Over the winter, TCPFC seemingly broke off from Capital City FC Inc. (and on Facebook taking its arrangement with the USL to field a Super 20 team. Whatever strife is between the two groups, it likely isn’t helping.

Thurston County Premier FC is on the web and on Facebook.

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