Category Archives: ESPL

The ESPL Finale…

Note from the Emerald Specter, DJ Allen: this is the finale of the ESPL. Not just of season 2 but of the ESPL in general. I’ve gotten no interest from anyone to keep pushing forward and I’ve decided to focus my time in another area. I am open to the idea of someone picking up where I leave off in the future, if so you can contact me on Twitter @EmeraldSpecter, otherwise you can discuss using the designed logos I’ve made with me starting with contact. Thank you.

Also note, this will be written a little different than normal. No special graphic for the season champions.

Looking at the table, one can see we have NEW ESPL Champions. Emerald United pushed hard, even in the face of the persistent defending champions, Gothica. The third club in the deep hunt was Shazam CM, which were the recipients of the talent of Patrick Barnes, who returned in week 17 to push Shazam CM from struggling contenders to, at one point, league leaders.

How about an overview of the second season?

From where we left off, Gothica took a sizable lead in the table, being up by 9 points at one point. Then the defending champions started coming up against stiff competition in the form of the Khan Galaxy led Naval Armada, pushing hard to continue to be relevant… they also came up against Emerald United, which started showing solidity in their late season run for the championship… and the revitalized Shazam CM, who only faltered when against two clubs: Emerald United and Gothica. Naval Armada managed a draw against Shazam CM, which was enough to dishevel the club into not being able to close the gap created by the big wins of Emerald United and Gothica.

The consistency of the champions was grand, unwaveringly steady even in the face of stiff competition. Gothica thought they had things wrapped up in week 14, with their 9 point lead but then things started to fall apart, with a few losses and key draws against clubs that shouldn’t have had a shot against the champions. In the end, their strong play didn’t return soon enough to stop the climb of Emerald United.

The table as a whole saw a lot more wins than last season, too. Percentage-wise, the wins were far higher across the board and that was due to some season trades that improved clubs across the bottom. The exchanges saw each club that benefitted being far more because the trades all mattered. Citrus LF were the ones to suggest the initial trade, positing that their initial trade with Tardis benefit both clubs. The exchange did and other trades occurred.

In the end, Emerald United were crowned champions in the last week of the season, only securing their championship with a solid win and Gothica’s draw in the final week that gave Emerald United the trophy.

Thanks for reading.

ESPL Week 8: A New Number One

In a return to the old format, if just for a few posts (or maybe the long haul), we give you the awaited Week 8 recap. Let’s not wait any longer!

Starting off with the first game of the week, Queensdaisy hosted Allen FC and managed to lose 0-1. The match was a heated contest, with some pushing several times, but Allen FC’s Max Vice put a strong shot into back of the net at 26 minutes. The home side wasn’t pleased but they made several real attempts at the goal but failed to equalize the game. Queensdaisy has had a rough inaugural season with only one win, four draws, and this being their third loss. One wouldn’t expect them to be taking the league by storm, but the focus doesn’t seem to be getting them going in the right direction just yet.

Next on the schedule was Real Olympia hosting Citrus LF, winning the match 2-1 at home. Real Olympia’s Francisco Perez scored the first goal at 19 minutes and Tim Bailey dropped the second goal in at 23 minutes, just over the goalie’s head. Citrus put in their only goal right after the half, at 47′ Nicolai Borloff slid the ball right by the keeper. Citrus gave a valiant effort but falls as Real Olympia is pushing for a much better season this year than last year.

In the collision of two titans of the league, Shamrock Celtic hosted Emerald United in what was touted as being the biggest match of the week. Celtic failed to score, with the guests United scoring at only 7′ when Xin Li established they were the ones who would be dominating the day. Celtic did not get a decent chance the rest of the game, with United putting in near goals the rest of the day but failing to extend their score. There were plenty of thrills but Celtic was shown  the cracks they were certain weren’t there.

But wait, the real upset of the week happened in Shazam CM hosting Gothica, as the defending champions were taken down in a 2-1 showdown in Shazam’s home stadium. Shazam’s Taoufik Belbani scored at 18′, the only goal of the first half. Shazam scored another one at 84′ when Jackson Alexander put the home side up 2-0, with Gothica scoring their only goal at 87′ at the foot of Adam Stonewall, a ricocheting shot originally sent from team captain Simon Tarken. With the defending champions getting their first loss of the season, they were sent home knowing that winning the second season isn’t going to be a cakewalk.

“It’s one loss,” said Peter Stark, GM of Gothica. “We have an entire season to do this, one loss isn’t the end of the world. The media is making this out to be the end of the season, us losing our championship in a grand failure or pride and energy. That simply isn’t the case. This is week eight of a 30 week season and I’ll be damned if I’m going to pack the team up and call it the end.”

Sporting Black Cats hosted Halo FC to a 2-2 draw. Sporting’s goals were at 40′ with Avondale Borusa and 92′ with Kai Funaki. Halo scored at 44′ with Hogi Prince and 62′ with Andrei Ramius. The match was well balanced, with both clubs getting plenty of chances to extend the score but in the end, the injury time equalizer was enough to prevent Sporting from falling further down the table than absolutely necessary.

Tardis hosted Knightsquare and gave their home crowd a 3-1 victory, displaying vast holes in the Knightsquare defense and, frankly, embarrassing GM Otto Borden in grand fashion. Tardis scored at 40′ by David Lopez, 70′ by Luis Suarez, and 72′ by Kelvin Bradley… all of that happened after Knightsquare snuck one in at 34′ by Anthony Marconi. There was some criticism of Marconi’s post goal celebration but that immediately went away as Tardis equalized and then scored two more to show they saw the gaps in Borden’s lineup.

Vulcan FC hosted Naval Armada, expecting a fight and they were not disappointed. Vulcan lost the match 4-2, with their goals coming at 39′ and 52′ both from Kiefer Springwood. Naval scored at 4′ and 76′ by Pedro DeJesus, 44′ by Vance Alexander, and 67′ by Stephen Khan. Naval is looking to put themselves back into he thick of the title hunt and this was a big step towards that goal, especially in the week Gothica was handed it’s first loss.

The spotlight match of the week was Wordsmiths hosting Octagon, with the home club figuring this to be a place to showcase their talent. Octagon wasn’t having any of it, though, as they scored the sole goal at 38′ by Muleaki A’anhi to win 1-0. Ocatgon’s second victory gives hope to the club to avoid finishing on the bottom in this first season, a distinction they’d very much like to avoid.

Well, that was week 8’s action, hope you’ll join us next week.

ESPL Week 7: And One Shall Fall

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“I’m Martin Thomas, and I welcome you to the seventh week action of the second ESPL season! I am joined by my co-commentator, David Archer. Let’s take a look at the overview before we begin covering topics.”

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“David,” said Martin Thomas, ESPL commentator, “What do we need to know about all of this?”

“Martin,” said David Archer, ESPL commentator, “first and foremost, we need to know that Naval Armada and Shazam CM have struck a deal for Patrick Barnes. Barnes is out until week 17, but Shazam has a nice set up and sent Linke Rosseau to Naval Armada. While Barnes is out, John Jones will be playing as a replacement. Secondly, we should break down the general action of the week.”

“Naval Armada lost to Gothica at home, 1-0, showing a weakness in their very first outing without Barnes.”

“Martin, I don’t think Barnes is a benefit to Naval right now. He got himself banned, he’s loud, he’s a solo player on a team, and while Rosseau isn’t a long term solution, at least they can get through the season with a team player.”

“The undefeated clubs left in week 7,” said Martin Thomas, “Are Gothica, Shazam CM, and Emerald United. Gothica is on top and looking to repeat as champions in season two.”

“There was a lot of action but the highlight of the week was Shazam CM putting an exclamation point on things with their 7-1 win over Tardis. If they can keep this up, they’ll be superb when Barnes hits the pitch with them.”

“Nothing really stands out for me with this week, as we had three draws and generally low scoring matches.”

“There’s always next week, but at least the action was live.”

“I’d like to take a moment to comment on the league’s leading scorer, Gothica’s Simon Tarken. He has eight goals on the season and we’re only in week seven. Gothica is definitely behind their team captain,” said Martin.

“I see a lot of fierce competition for the leading scorer spot,” said David. “Arak Shemin has seven goals and has been keeping up, if not leading once in a while. I’m shocked we haven’t had more draws like we did this point last season.”

“I think things are comparable, actually. The trend is definitely for less draws this season, which only helps prop the league up.”

There will be more ESPL next week… stay tuned.

ESPL Week 6: Explosive Remarks

coveresplThe great round of action in week 6 is overshadowed… not by last week’s announcement, though that was in the minds of everyone around the ESPL, but by Patrick Barnes and his tirade after being tossed out of the match in front of all the ESPL media. There was great action on the pitch as well, as we turn things over to David Archer and Martin Thomas in the Week 6 review.

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“There were three draws this week in some knock out, drag out action,” said David Archer, ESPL commentator. “The league leaders lost one of their lead players and the world heard all about it. Martin, where do you want to start this week?”

“I want to start with the game of the week,” said Martin Thomas, ESPL commentator. “Not only is the last match on the schedule for the week the spotlight game, but it proved to be the one everyone was interested in as we entered the final match of the weekend. Shazam CM punched through for seven total goals to Tardis’s two, giving Taoufik Belbani a hat trick and the statement of the week: Shazam is here to stay.”

“They really took their place as one of the clubs to beat if anyone wants to take the championship this season,” said Archer. “Honestly, I never doubted Shazam had the opportunities, I was just surprised they hadn’t capitalized like this sooner. They really are capable of this type of performance four out of every five matches.”

“Some players were distracted by the announcements made last week,” said Thomas. “Some were distracted by the enlargement of the league for season four, but there were more heads concerned that they would be playing women next season.”

“In fairness, Martin, there haven’t been a rash of signups for the ladies at this point,” said Archer. “I mean, those players who think that they’ll be shown up by the women are the ones who probably don’t understand that if they want to be considered the best, they have to be willing to play all comers. Just because the gender may be different doesn’t mean that the league will looked down upon.”

“I know we’re both avoiding the elephant in the room, so why don’t we hit that up?”

“Martin, the story of the week is undoubtedly Patrick Barnes. The Naval Armada forward has been boisterous, vocal, and he’s not shy about touting his own capabilities. The unfortunate part of what Barnes did this week, though, really may have hurt Armada’s chances of staying in the hunt for the championship.”

“Patrick Barnes had gotten a yellow card for a questionably vicious tackle early in the match against Allen FC,” said Thomas. “Normally, when a player obtains a yellow card, especially for something as questionably damaging as his tackle, the player takes a lighter approach to the match and rarely sees themselves getting into further card trouble. Not Barnes. Just after the 35th minute, Allen FC team captain Charles Alexander went towards the goal for a shot, Barnes not only knocked him over but stepped on the opponent while he was down, really causing some concern on the pitch from both clubs. Barnes received a straight red card, though a yellow would have done the job, and the ESPL has imposed a six week ban for Barnes’s actions on the pitch. He was vocal at the media conference after the match.”

“This is a bunch of sh–,” said Patrick Barnes at the media. “I’m targeted because I’m a f–king awesome player. Chuck had no damn business flopping down like he did and if you look at the G—–mned replay, you’ll see he blatantly grabbed my foot and pulled it into his chest. This league needs to be more diligent if we want to show the f–king world we deserve to be considered among the best. The officiating squad out there is a bunch of whipped p—ies and they couldn’t hold my jock strap. There isn’t a one of those f–king jack wagons that has a hint of talent, which is why they’re tossing yellow and red cards around for a living. I’m being targeted. Targeted. This is a bunch of sh–!”

“The ESPL had initially given Barnes the six week ban for stomping on Charles Alexander,” said Archer. “They extended that to ten weeks after Barnes’s tirade towards the media.”

“We have no place for that kind of verbal assault in the ESPL,” said Thomas. “Barnes was clearly out of line. He claims Alexander grabbed his foot to ‘flop’ the injury, but we know that the incident resulted in Alexander having bruised ribs. He hasn’t been assessed for play in week seven but to have that kind of medical results from something like that, you can’t really claim you’ve been targeted.”

“Part of the reason that Celtic let Barnes go without a bidding war was exactly this type of hot headed play,” said Archer. “There could have been something of a bidding war for Barnes but Celtic put up a paltry number compared to what Armada offered. I wouldn’t be surprised if Armada starts trying to shop Barnes’s contract to see if they can recuperate some of their investment.”

“Barnes is a talented player, but in comparison to Khan Galaxy, who is considered the best player in this league as far as talent goes, he’s barely in the same conversation. Galaxy’s anguish when the card came out was really the image of the week in my opinion.”

“Khan Galaxy was asked to speak in front of the media, too, and he declined. The coaching staff of Naval Armada wanted to keep others off the microphones after Barnes went rogue like he did.”

“Six match ban to a ten match ban. Simply unbelievable.”

“We should finish up the week’s review by pointing out we had three draws this week, Gothica reclaimed sole possession of the top spot in the league, and the second place is really a four club race between Naval Armada, Shazam CM, Emerald United, and Shamrock Celtic. While Celtic is two points farther behind than the other three clubs, they’re still a contender.”

“I wonder if Armada is going to show some cracks on the pitch next week in the absence of Patrick Barnes?”

“Time will tell, Martin. For the ESPL week in review, I’m David Archer.”

“And I’m Martin Thomas. We shall see you next week.”

ESPL Week 5: News and Reviews

coveresplWe have another week of action to relay to you and we have a bombshell announcement that we’ll also be relaying from founder DJ Allen! Can you handle the suspense?

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“Only two draws this week,” said Martin Thomas, ESPL commentator, “One to open the week and the other to close the week. There is some movement on the table but the most noticeable item on the table this week is the lone club without a win or a draw: Octagon. Clubs seem to be settling into their places early in the season and I can’t think of a better way to start this off than by passing the torch to my cohost, David Archer.”

“Thank you, Martin,” said David Archer, ESPL commentator. “Naval Armada takes the control over the table by a higher goal difference. This week, though, it’s only a two club race. Armada seems to be trying to make a statement that Gothica is not going to push them around. Both clubs won but Armada had a clean sheet for their efforts at Citrus LF.”

“I was surprised that Gothica didn’t have the same type of performance at home,” said Thomas. “It seems that they would have had a stronger showing on their home pitch.”

“That was definitely not the case this week. Naval Armada takes top marks with the largest win, the highest number of goals this week, and they are only one of two clubs to win on the road this week, the other being Wordsmiths.”

“Can we talk about Wordsmiths?”

“Absolutely,” said Archer. “Wordsmiths scored all their goals in the first half, two by Calvin Casey, and they held on to beat the Shamrock Celtic powerhouse in their own stadium, marking the first stumble in the Celtic goal to remain a title contender.”

“In some situations like this, David, it’s often that the losing side did something to foul up their own chances, opening the door for their opponents to capitalize on the mistake. Celtic didn’t make any such mistake, they just couldn’t put the football in the goal.”

“Arak Shemin and Ron Terrell were the two goal scorers for Celtic and you are correct, Martin, Celtic just couldn’t get an equalizer or a winning goal into the net. Plenty of yellow cards for both sides, too, but Celtic just didn’t seem to be playing championship football.”

“Any early predictions on the championship this year?” asked Thomas.

“I’m going out on a limb and saying Gothica is going to repeat this year.”

“They are the safe bet, really. I believe that Naval Armada has a chance but Emerald United seems to be the sleeping giant waiting for those two clubs to flub just enough to watch them walk through to take the cup at the end.”

“Emerald United, then?”

“I will actually stick with Naval Armada. Things will change as we move into the season, as usual.”

“Now, we move to a special announcement from the founder and owner of the ESPL, DJ Allen,” said Archer. “We will have some commentary after the announcement.”

“Good evening, ESPL fans and media,” said DJ Allen. “I am here to make an announcement, two actually, about the future of the ESPL. We are a successful league, we show a lot of promise, and the potential for what the ESPL can be and do has no limit. I’m pleased to be presenting these two items to you at this time, showing the league will be growing for the future.

“The first phase of this announcement is by far the biggest one I can deliver. There has been much speculation as to what kinds of limits the ESPL will be placing on players allowed to play in the league. Early this year, there was a petition to allow women to play in the league, not in their own league, but along side their male counterparts. Starting with season three, women will be allowed to be signed by any club that wishes to sign them. At this time I’m making this announcement, there have only been three women who have expressed their interest in playing in the ESPL and as soon as this season ends, they’ll be free to be signed in the off season. The ESPL is the first league in the world to open the doors to this type of collaborative play between the sexes. We, the ESPL, are expecting there to be many, many more women who will be interested in playing in the league.

“That leads into my second announcement. We expanded the league from twelve clubs to sixteen clubs for season two. This is already showing to be a popular move, with even the new clubs drawing larger crowds than expected in stadium. We believe that the time for another expansion is at hand. Rather than expanding two or four clubs, making the ESPL eighteen to twenty member clubs strong, we are creating the largest expansion of any league in any nation at one time because we believe that the ESPL is missing something.

“Starting in 2019, the ESPL will be introducing a ‘tier 2’ to the ESPL pyramid, the first such expansion in the league’s history. The league will be known as League 2, awaiting a promotional sponsor for expanding the identity, and League 2 will introduce twelve new clubs into the fray. The ESPL and League 2 clubs will compete for the talent that is already present in the league, plus any new players coming in between now and then. Following the 2019 season, the bottom three clubs of the ESPL will be relegated into League 2 and the top club of League 2 will win automatic promotion into the ESPL. To fill the other two ESPL slots, the next four clubs, ranked second through fifth, will compete in a mini-playoff to determine the two clubs to be promoted into the ESPL.

“Finishing up, any future expansion of new cubs of the ESPL and League 2 will happen at the League 2 level, allowing the possibility of future league expansions to accommodate clubs into the future. The playoff promotion system will be tweaked as necessary and if we decide the ESPL needs to be eighteen clubs, a bigger promotion opportunity would be granted for that specific year.

“I want to thank you all for enjoying the ESPL and I hope that you’ll all enjoy the League 2 just as much.”

“What a bombshell, David,” said Martin Thomas. “Two bombshells, really. Women and men playing without barriers and an entirely new league coming to the pyramid system in 2019.”

“Some would state that we don’t have a pyramid system at this point,” said David Archer. “But with the inclusion of League 2, we add a tier to the potential pyramid that the system could eventually bloom into. Will creating League 2 give more potential club owners an opportunity to try to get a club and have the system expand to a League 3, League 4, or maybe even a multiple league tier feeding into League 2. The opportunity here is enormous.”

“Absolutely, David. unfortunately, we are running out of time and we will be back next week with more ESPL action.”

ESPL Week 4: The Race Tightens

coveresplAfter the highest scoring week we’ve ever seen, things start to tighten up as the braggadocios clubs were somewhat quieted and the top of the table gets much more of a race early in this season. We’re only in week 4 and the defending champion Gothica is sitting high atop of the table. If they’re this consistent and this hard to keep from the top of the table at week 4, how hard will they be to keep out of the championship race as the season continues? Let’s see what happened and get to the action!

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“The most important part of any season is getting a good start,” said Martin Thomas, ESPL commentator. “If you get an early start, if you run into trouble later in the season, you can always recover. If you start off in a bad place, you’re chasing the whole season and very few clubs can ‘chase’ all the way to a championship. Historically speaking, I’d say that if you look at the table ‘as is’ in week 4, the clubs from Allen FC and down have no chance at being the ESPL champions this year.”

“We are really too early to call anyone winning at this point,” said David Archer, ESPL commentator. “I think that the field is still wide open but I have to agree with my colleague, historically speaking no one from Allen FC down is going to bring home the trophy. I look at the goal difference, which is why Gothica is currently on top, and if you have a negative number this early in the season, you’re not likely to be in the chase for the championship at the end.”

Wth every goal scorer of this week, we see that goals did not come easily. While some goals came early in matches, the goals were not easy to obtain and goalkeepers almost touched every single attempt, nearly derailing them. All the scorers for the week are James McDaniel (2 goals, Allen FC), Charles Alexander (1 goal, Allen FC), Jonathan Lucke (1 goal, Halo FC), Evander McDaniel (1 goal, Halo FC), Hogi Prince (1 goal, Halo FC), Scott Stennon (1 goal, Halo FC), Juan Hernandez (1 goal, Citrus LF), Edge Right (1 goal, Emerald United), Khan Galaxy (1 goal, Naval Armada), Norman Tavez (1 goal, Gothica), Simon Tarken (1 goal, Gothica), Guillermo Martinez (1 goal, Gothica), Bart Hathaway (1 goal, Queensdaisy), David Jansen (1 goal, Sporting Black Cats), Francisco Perez (1 goal, Real Olympia), David Lopez (1 goal, Tardis), Fuji Takei (1 goal, Tardis), Hadji Khan (1 goal, Shamrock Celtic), Shamus O’Mara (1 goal, Shamrock Celtic), Calvin Casey (1 goal, Wordsmiths), Carlos Marcos (1 goal, Shazam CM), Linke Rousseau (1 goal, Shazam CM), and Jared Son (1 goal, Shazam CM).

“We can talk about who scored, when they scored, and what the match looked like throughout,” said David Archer, ESPL commentator. “In the end, though, we’re looking at the same thing week after week, so we were asked to switch things up once in a while. Welcome to week 4.”

“The big winners of the week are obviously at the top of the table, Gothica,” said Martin Thomas. “They are really only the top club due to goal difference, but that is still enough to put them in the top. If the season ended today, they’d be the two time ESPL champions. The big losers of the week are Octagon, who have yet to do anything this season but lose.”

“Octagon have a leak that they need to fix because if they don’t, this isn’t going to be a good place for anyone playing or coaching there,” said Archer.

“The championship race last season was really about Gothica, Emerald United, Naval Armada, Shamrock Celtic, and Shazam CM reaching trying to one up each other,” said Thomas. “This season? Well, we’re quickly seeing a lot of the same clubs fighting for the top spot, but Halo is making a play for being in that mix, though I don’t think that we’ll see all five of last year’s clubs in the top five spots this year. Gothica, Emerald United, and Naval Armada are really the clubs to watch for the championship this year. Shazam CM and Shamrock Celtic have a lot to prove but I believe their efforts are going to fall short.”

“I think that Celtic doesn’t want to admit it, but losing Patrick Barnes makes Armada that much better and they really need someone to take his place,” said Archer.

“What about the new clubs, David?” asked Thomas.

“Well,” said Archer, “Tardis is sitting in seventh on the table right now and the other three new clubs are occupying three of the bottom four spots in the league. If we look at what they’re doing differently, Tardis really isn’t worrying about being scored on when they’re on the pitch, they’re looking to do their own thing and push forward. There are big names on each of the new clubs but only Tardis has seemed to figure out how to coalesce while the other three are metaphorically running into each other on the pitch.”

“This is turning out to be an exciting looking season and we’ll be more than happy to get back to our regular format, as well as trying other new formats in the future,” said Thomas. “Until next week, we’ll see you here on Emerald Specter.com.”

ESPL Week 3: Scoring Extravaganza

coveresplIf you doubted that the ESPL is entering an era of unlimited potential, then you need to check out what just happened this past weekend. There was so much scoring, some wondered if this was American football. Let’s get to the action!

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The first thing that needs to be addressed is that last week, we erroneously posted a table with the header “Week 1” instead of “Week 2.” That was simply an oversight, we received plenty of feedback, and we have corrected the issue for Week 3.

The first match of the weekend was Gothica hosting Allen FC, and the reigning champions let everyone know immediately that they were looking to repeat as league champions by scoring six goals compared to only allowing Allen to score three. The visitors scorers were Patrick Tarken (13′), Shawn Rock (17′), and James McDaniel (77′). Gothica scored early and they scored often, including goals from Donovan Right (3′, 52′, & 56′), Simon Tarken (28′, 53′, & 54′), and Vaughn Terrell (85′). With two hat tricks, Gothica thought they would be the spotlight of the week, opening strong and finishing their opponents with definitive strikes.

“We weren’t messing around,” said Gothica team captain Simon Tarken. “Donovan and I both got hat tricks, we would have tried to get Vaughn one, too, but the clock just ran out of time. We are keeping this championship here and we are going to make sure that the road to being champions of the ESPL runs through Gothica.”

Then we saw the second match of the week.

Emerald United hosted Citrus LF and outscored the previous match by winning 8-3! Citrus scorers were Jean-Louis Pepon (26′), Nicolai Borloff (44′), and Kovali Anand (72′). The hosts kept up and really crushed Citrus towards the end of the match with goals from Dae Ho Park (4′ & 33′), Dzung Tran (8′ & 86′), Bill Lubiel (38′ & 42′), Edge Right (84′), and Trent Areonak (89′).

“We called the Citrus LF home office and asked if their club was going to show up for the match today,” said Trent Areonak, team captain of Emerald United. The media laughed. “In all honesty, though, they played well but our scoring really took their minds out of the game. We saw what Gothica did and decided we wanted to outdo them, so we did.”

Octagon hosted Halo FC in the third match of the week, with only Ghudra Nmamba (33′) scoring in this one. The home crowd was hostile towards the guests but that didn’t bother Halo as they worked towards their 1-0 final score.

One upsmanship didn’t stop with Emerald United, as Naval Armada hosted their 7-3 victory over Knightsquare set the high mark for the week at seven goals. Knightsquare scored via Freidrich Gunther (4′), Pedro Cruz (42′), and Claude Deveraux (46′) was their showing and wasn’t enough against the home side. Naval Armada had goals from Patrick Barnes (8′ & 91′), Yuri Petrikoff (40′), Alan Marquardt (54′), Matt Craven (66′), and Khan Galaxy (67′ & 87′).

“This squad is a championship squad and we are showing that every week,” said Horatio Antonelli, manager of Naval Armada. “We are undefeated, we have four of the best players in the league leading the way, and we are on top of the table at week 3. I think that we have a good chance to bring the championship to where it should have been last year, which is here at Armada.”

Did you think that was the best showing by a home side this week? You’d be wrong.

Shamrock Celtic, Patrick Barnes’s former club, outdid everyone this week by putting up a final score of 10-4 against newcomers Queensdaisy. The away side scored via Bart Hathaway (84′) and a hat trick from all star Shawn Alexander (29′, 41′, & 86′), who chose to come to a brand new club to be the anchor. Shamrock Celtic put in goals by Ron Terrell (2′), Marco Kaspazov (9′), Eric Stennon (40′), Keb Mogodai (47′), Arak Shemin (57′, 62′, 71′, 79′, & 91’… five goals from one player in one half), and Hadji Khan (74′). Team captain Arak Shemin scored five times in a single half, one shy of a double hat trick.

“Queensdaisy really put a focus on Shemin and Khan early in the match,” said Shamrock Celtic manager Ephraim Colton. “That opened up scoring opportunities for Terrell, Kaspazov, Stennon, and Mogodai that probably wouldn’t have been there. Arak was livid, though, and he wanted to drive home that he was not going to be denied and he almost scored a double hat trick on his own and dominated the second half of the match. Hadji mentioned that he was sorry to have stolen that one goal from Arak, who could have also put it in, but Arak said that no one should avoid the shot if they can take it. This is a team determined to show we were more than just one player who speaks loudly.”

Shazam CM hosted Real Olympia and ESPL fans were expected Shazam to up the stakes again with the scoring but were treated to more of a tactical battle as the clubs finished in a 2-2 draw. Real Olympia had scored via Francisco Perez (41′) and Louis Calipso (51′), while the home side scored via Taoufik Belbani (8′) and Carlos Marcos (28′).

“This was really a tough fought game,” said David Archer, ESPL commentator. “Shazam was expecting to be big talkers like the other clubs making waves this week but they came out and were really quiet in comparison. I don’t think this club can take the championship this year but they’ll not be rolled over, to be sure.”

Vulcan FC hosted Sporting Black Cats in another tactical masterpiece, with the hosts scoring the only goal (Jesse Davis at 12′).

“It’s nice to score the winning goal,” said Jesse Davis. “It’s unfortunate that I only had one goal, as it seems that scoring 3 to 8 times was the trend this week. Still, we got the win.”

The final match of the week was between Wordsmiths who hosted Tardis in the spotlight game of the week. The away side showed some weaknesses that Wordsmiths were all too happy to capitalize on. The home side were the only scorers as Wordsmiths scored via Russell Mantrell (12′), James Traceur (14′), Calvin Casey (22′), and Travis Trevors (32′ & 33′).

“There was a lot of talk about Tardis being the shining moment for expansion clubs,” said Jason White, team captain of Wordsmiths. “We shut them out, shut them down, and Travis even shored twice in two minutes. There is something to be said for established clubs.”

“I couldn’t have asked for more action than this,” said DJ Allen, owner and founder of the ESPL. “There was a lot of scoring, a lot of talk, and I’m interested in seeing where the league heads from here.”

Only time will tell.

ESPL Week 2: Movement

coveresplAs one would expect, there is plenty of movement on the table and we nearly had a draw free week. Let’s see what the week looked like and go in depth on the particulars.

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There was plenty of discussion over the past two weeks, that perhaps some of these epic matchups should be considered “derbys,” and those are under consideration. One that is a shoe in for being a derby is the Emerald United-Gothica matches, though some are arguing for others. The league will rule on them in time but pointed out that perhaps the fans should be the ones to decide the derby matches instead of the league.

Allen FC hosted Emerald United, with the visitors scoring at 47′ (Paco DeJesus) and 74′ (Edge Righte). There were a plethora of yellow cards handed out, mostly in the second half when things started to get moving for both clubs, but Emerald United won in the end with a 2-0 showing away.

“I don’t always have something to say,” said Trent Areonak, Emerald United team captain. “Sometimes I like to just sit back and let the feet do the talking. We did that today.”

Citrus LF hosted Gothica, with the visitors scoring at 53′ (Guillermo Martinez) and 79′ (Adam Stonewall) putting through the only two goals. Gothica’s 2-0 victory was never in doubt, even though there wasn’t a score in the first half at all.

“We didn’t really come on strong until the second half,” said Peter Stark, GM of Gothica. “I went into the locker room and rallied everyone up and told them that if they don’t start showing some effort, I’ll start selling players to second tiers of leagues they don’t want to play in. Two goals and I’m a happy camper.”

Halo FC hosted Naval Armada, with the visitors getting the only goal at 78′ (Yuri Petrikoff). This was a heated battle as three players were given double yellow cards, obvious each being booted for red cards. Halo suffered by the losses of Hogi Prince (54′) and Hector Cruz (69′), with Naval losing the services of Alan Marquardt (60′). Naval did win the day with the single goal of 1-0.

“All three of the cards were completely avoidable,” said Horatio Antonelli, GM of Naval Armada. “Prince and Cruz just kept pressing and pressing until they were booted and Marquardt is going to have some time to consider his overreaction at being scolded for that terrible tackle. He could have taken that poor boy out.” The reference was to Marquardt slide tackling Derric Stennon not once, but twice in the course of the full match.

Knightsquare hosted Octagon in the first home win of the week, with Knightsquare scoring at 38′ (Albert Styles) and 91′ (Freidrich Gunther), and Octagon only scoring once at 40′ (Josh Franklin). The quick answer to Knightsquare’s initial goal was to give everyone a reason to stand for the majority of this match. Chances were had by both sides and only in extra time did Knightsquare seal the win with the second goal for a 2-1 victory.

“Losing in week one wasn’t fun,” said Albert Styles, team captain for Knightsquare. “I wanted to make sure to put my best foot forward and step up for the club. We took the victory and we’re going to turn this thing around early so we don’t get anywhere near what happened last season.”

Queensdaisy hosted Shazam CM, with the visitors scoring the only goal at 48′ (Hoshi Tanaka). Most of the match was spent on the home side’s part of the field and Queensdaisy’s goal keeper, Cristiano Lopez, got quite the work out blocking all the chances.

“Lopez is a hell of a keeper,” said Taoufik Belbani, team captain of Shazam CM. “We kicked a lot of balls at him and he nearly blocked them all. That one that got through, though, that was all that really matters. We got one more than they did.”

Real Olympia hosted Shamrock Celtic, with the visitors scoring at 28′ (Keb Mogodai), 67′ (Arak Shemin), and 86′ (Simon Tavez) to definitively get a 3-0 win.

“Real wasn’t ready for this match,” said Ephraim Colton, GM for Shamrock Celtic. “We wanted to come in and make a statement but I thought they’d fight back a little harder than they did. We came in, punched the home side in the mouth, and simply took whatever we wanted to.”

Sporting Black Cats hosted Wordsmiths, with Sporting scoring at 2′ (Wade Wonder), 8′ (Avendale Borusa), and 79′ (Victor Khrushchev). Wordsmiths scored at 25′ & 29′, both from the foot of Jack Doyle.

“They gave us a run for our money,” said Avendale Borusa, Sporting team captain. “Wade and I scored, then Doyle scored twice. I couldn’t believe it. The second half and Victor stepping up really gave us the push we needed but this was a wake up call. I don’t want another close one like this at home against a club we aren’t supposed to have a problem with.”

Tardis hosted Vulcan FC to a 0-0 draw, with a few yellow cards handed out but otherwise not much in the way of excitement to report. Tardis, in only their second match, has now contended with two clubs they shouldn’t have had any business having a chance in.

“The league is growing and getting better,” said DJ Allen, ESPL owner and founder. “We’ve only have two weeks go by in the ESPL for our second season and I’m already evaluating the possibility of expanding again next year. Ideally, the league would be 16 to 18 clubs, and we’d have ourselves a second tier for promotion/relegation purposes, but this is a hell of a start. Tardis is already packing their stadium and this is the first year!”

Only time will tell, but there was a lot of movement in the table and things should start to stabilize for the rest of the season. Who will be contending for the title and who will be sitting at the bottom? Check next week for the next chapter in that saga!

ESPL Week 1: Shocking and Solid

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There were some surprises in week 1, some clubs who fought hard but couldn’t reach their goals, and a minimal number of draws to open up Season 2 in a big way. Let’s get to the action!

Nate Havram opened the scoring up for Citrus LF in the 10′, showing that Citrus LF was not going to just roll over as the new club in town. Allen FC fought back with an equalizer by Patrick Tarken at 31′ to leave the half at 1-1. November Nstinga opened up the scoring for Allen FC with a goal at 55′, giving the home side an advantage. Kovali Anand equalized for Citrus at 83′, only to have the final goal of the match be put through at 87′ by Max Vice, securing the first win of the season for Allen FC.

“We wanted a bigger goal difference,” said Charles Alexander, Allen FC team captain. “We really wanted to make our mark in the first week, a statement, that would resonate throughout the league. We got the win but things were a lot closer than we’d hoped against a brand new club.”

“With a good showing from Citrus LF,” said David Archer, ESPL Commentator, “I think we can expect great things from all the new clubs in the league. This showed everyone that just because they’re new, it doesn’t mean they’ll be rolled over.”

The match of the week, by most people’s standards, was the first clash between Emerald United and Gothica in what would be a draw. Trent Areonak scored an early 7′ goal for the home side to give them an early advantage. When, at 40′, Bill Lubiel put through Emerald United’s second goal, some were quick to worry that Gothica would take a loss in their first game of the new season but Simon Tarken put through the response at 41′ to show the champions weren’t out of the game yet. In the second half, Simon Tarken scored again at 59′ to even the score and keep it even until the final whistle, giving us the first draw of the new ESPL season.

“That was a hum-dinger,” said Simon Tarken, Gothica team captain and only goal scorer of the day. The media laughed. “I can’t say that I’m disappointed, the referees let us really hammer each other. There were a couple of times both sides should have gotten cards but they just let us play on. If this is how strong we both are, I can’t wait to see the end of the season. I would have liked a hat trick to open up the season, too, but I’ll take what I can get.”

Halo FC hosted Knightsquare, opening up the scoring at 25′ with a goal from team captain Scott Stennon. They would add a second one to their list at 42′ when his brother, Derric Stennon, put one through the the defense for a solid goal. In the second half after Ghudra Nmamba scored the third one for Halo at 71′, energizing the away side to mount a comeback. Zane Faulken scored at 76′ and Pedro Cruz scored at 85′, bringing the total to 3-2. Their last goal was denied as Zane Faulken was called offsides at 90′, leaving the away club with a loss in the first week of the season.

“The amount of effort that Knightsquare pulled out at the end of the match was epic,” said Martin Thomas, ESPL Commentator. “We were used to seeing Knightsquare just sort of peter out at the end of a match but they actually poured on the effort at the end. It’s sad they have to start the season with a loss but I think they’ll do better than we’ve given them credit for if they can keep this up.”

When Naval Armada hosted Octagon, the home club wanted to make the statement that no other club could: and they proved they’re going to be a major player this year in the title race. Khan Galaxy scored the first goal for Naval at 12′, and Patrick Barnes (their new acquisition) scored the second goal at 24′ to give the home side a 2-0 lead. That lasted until Piotr Khrush scored at 34′ to give the new club one goal before the half ended. The second half scoring opened up with Naval’s Kenton Key at 55′ and Yuri Petrikoff at 56′ to give Naval an even wider lead. Patrick Barnes scored again at 74′, putting the game out of reach in most eyes but Octagon would not go quietly into the night. Boris Putin scored at 81′, Piotr Khrush scored again at 84′, and at 90′ Pierre Benoit scored the final goal of the game, leaving Octagon a goal short against a club that decidedly “gave up” towards the end but still pulled out the win.

“We could publish what Khan Galaxy or Patrick Barnes said,” said David Archer, ESPL Commentator. “They took a strong lead and could have held on to that for the full time but seemed to roll over in the second half, cruising instead of pushing. Octagon is a new club, Naval is one of the top four clubs in the league, if they can’t bury a new club then can we really believe they’ll be chasing the title this year?”

“Their second half was embarrassing,” said Martin Thomas, ESPL Commentator. “Khan Galaxy is considered the best player in the league, but he only got one goal. Patrick Barnes, the golden child, is only credited with two goals in this one. The pair of them on separate teams could mount unbelievable numbers but together I am underwhelmed by their performance today. There is so much they should be doing and scraping by with a single goal difference is embarrassing.”

Real Olympia visited Queensdaisy and wanted to make a statement of their own, that the logo controversy is nothing to pay attention to because the “original” is better. Tim Bailey scored in the 2′, quieting the home crowd immediately. Sam Wells scored again for Real at 9′, making the opportunity for Queensdaisy to rise up look bleak. The home club didn’t roll over, in the tradition of all new comers this first week, they fought back. Tom Johnson scored the last goal of the first half for Queensdaisy at 12′. The second half saw only a single goal from Shawn Alexander at 82′, to leave the score in a 2-2 draw.

“I’m not going to come to a new team and just let them fall over in the first week,” said Shawn Alexander, Queensdaisy team captain. “They punched first, hard, and we punched back. In the end, they held us to just two goals, meaning they’re good defensively. I think the idea that all the new clubs aren’t going to make a mark this season just because they’re all new is being dispelled real quick.”

Shamrock Celtic hosted Shazam CM and the visitors struck first by Carlos Marcos scoring a goal at 36′. Hadji Khan equalized at 41′ for Celtic, but Shazam had an answer for that as Linke Rousseau scored at 45′ to close out the first half. Linke Rousseau scored his second of the day at 78′ to open the second half, then scored the hat trick at 82′ just two minutes before Hadji Khan got his second of the day at 84′. The game ended at 4-2, giving Shazam CM their first win and a big statement that the away clubs won’t be rolled over, either.

“I’m happy to say we went on the road and pulled out a solid victory,” said Taoufik Belbani, Shazam CM team captain. “Linke got a hat trick and we’re pleased to be the league leaders right now. It’s early but there is no reason to lie down.”

Sporting Black Cats hosted Tardis in the second to last match of the week. Tardis opened up the scoring at 24′ by David Lopez, causing the home crowd to go nearly silent. At 27′, Wade Wonder scored an equalizer, giving the Sporting crowd some hope. That hope started to fade in the second half as at 49′ Juan Avilaperez put one into the net, followed by Jorge Jimenez at 72′, and Jorge Jimenez again at 89′ to give Tardis the 4-1 win.

“Everyone see the exclamation at the end of this sentence?” asked Juan Avilaperez, Tardis team captain. “Tardis is here. Top of the table.”

The final match of the week was between Vulcan FC and the visiting Wordsmiths, newly rebranded. Hector Rodriguez scored the first goal of the night, for Vulcan, at 35′, answered by Wordsmiths at 44′ by Calvin Casey. The second half saw two goals, both from Wordsmiths, at 55′ by Russell Mantrell and 87′ by Jack Doyle.

“We have a shiny new look,” said Jason White, Wordsmiths team captain. “Sometimes a shiny new look gives everyone a little energy to go out and win some games. We got three, they got one, and we believe that we should have gotten more but we’ll have plenty of time for that.”

There was plenty of action in this week and we’re looking forward to seeing more from the league as time moves forward. Looking forward to next week!

ESPL Off-Season 5: Preview Time!

coveresplIt’s been a long year, a long wait, and we now finally get to the preview edition of Season 2 now with commentary from the best in the league. It’s time to talk about the ESPL.

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Season 1 was a nail biter, as the league wasn’t won until the very end. We couldn’t have hoped for a better finish and Gothica came out on top as the club to beat for Season 2, defending their championship isn’t going to be an easy feat. Let’s see what we can tell about this upcoming season and see how close predictions will be when the ball is finally kicked for the first time in Season 2.

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“The Champions are really the club to beat in Season 2,” said Martin Thomas, ESPL Commentator. “I firmly believe they’ll be at the top of the table at the end of this next season, being the first and two time defending champions at the end.”

“Emerald United is the club to beat,” said David Archer, ESPL Commentator. “Gothica is going to be a tough club to beat but I think Emerald United made a lot of great moves this off season and they’ll be pushing to be champions in 2017.”

Experts are actually split down the middle, so we’re calling the final race between Gothica and Emerald United, with the winner of their two meetings really being the club to end up as the champions at the end of the season.
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“The club that underperformed in 2016 is in a solid third place,” said Martin Thomas. “Naval Armada is going to improve drastically and may even be knocking on the door to the championship with their stellar acquisition of Patrick Barnes to the already stellar lineup.”

“Naval Armada with Khan Galaxy and Patrick Barnes is going to be a force to be reckoned with,” said David Archer. “There is a lot of talent in the club but those two stand above all that talent. Naval Armada is going to have a great showing in 2017.”

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“The surprise club of 2016 was Shamrock Celtic and they’ll be pushing to repeating their performance and over performing in 2017,” said David Archer.

“I think Shamrock Celtic has a great lineup, but I also believe the loss of Patrick Barnes in the off season will be a bigger hit to the lineup than anyone cares to admit,” said Martin Thomas.

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One of the biggest shockers of the premier season was the explosion of Shazam CM, a club that was predicted to be “just part of the mix,” and ended up being a powerhouse for a good portion of the season. David Archer and Martin Thomas both agreed that they think that Shazam CM falls in fifth place.

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“The namesake of the league’s founder, Allen FC, are looking strong but will be more even than they were last season,” said Martin Thomas. “They made some improvements, but they haven’t improved more than anyone else has improved, so they are really just keeping pace. Allen FC could prove to be stronger than we think but I really believe they’ll fall short with the talent we’ve already covered.”

“Allen FC,” said David Archer. “Sixth place finish. I can’t see them outperforming Gothica, Emerald United… I can’t even see them performing better than Shazam, so I don’t think Allen will see the top of the table at the end of the season.”

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“Halo had a great showing in 2016 but they didn’t improve like they needed to in order to drive themselves up the table,” said David Archer. “Halo will finish seventh.”

“There are clubs who made big moves and then there are clubs that just sort of moved things around,” said Martin Thomas. “Halo moved things around and I think they could have really done better in the off season.”

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There isn’t as many quality comments for the next few positions, experts agreeing that Halo will be followed by Vulcan FC, Sporting Black Cats, and Knightsquare.

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“The club that enters the league for their debut that made the best moves was Queensdaisy,” said Martin Thomas. “I can really see them finishing well above the bottom and I’m interested to see exactly what they are capable of in the end. I don’t see them taking down any of the top four or five but I do see them finishing mid-table.”

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Real Olympia took their position behind Queensdaisy, the club wasn’t available as they could have been in the open market and they will probably overspend next year if they fail to finish well in 2017.

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“Another surprising tie we can’t seem to agree on is between Tardis and Wordsmiths,” said David Archer. “I pick Tardis, they’re new and we haven’t seen anything from the combination of players and management, so I want to give credit to them for making the moves they need to in order to stay off the bottom of the table.”

“Wordsmiths made big moves,” said Martin Thomas. “They redesigned their shield and they have redesigned their club as they are going to do better than last season and probably finish a lot higher than we’ll give them credit for.”

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The two clubs fighting to stay off the very bottom are both new, with neither one really giving confidence to any of the experts about having more of a chance than being in the bottom two. Octagon is expected to do better than Citrus LF, but in the end, second to last place isn’t that much better than last place.

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The season will be kicking off in a couple of weeks, so get ready for more ESPL action in Season 2!