Over the weeks leading up to the 2013 NPL Champions Cup, we will be examining all aspects of the tournament through a multi-part Web series each Thursday. Part I took a look back at the inaugural event last year, Part II featured the host venue of Aurora Sports Park, Part III broke down the qualifying process, Part IV detailed what’s new for this year, and Part V focused on the joint hosting of the event with the National Cup XII Finals.
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For an idea of the National Premier Leagues’ nationwide footprint, look no further than the U-17 boys age group at the 2013 NPL Champions Cup.
Florida Premier League champion Kendall SC and Washington State Premier League winner Emerald City FC Green will both vie for titles at US Club Soccer’s league-based national championship competition, squaring off at a location that roughly qualifies as meeting in the middle.
Based in Miami and Seattle, respectively, Kendall SC and Emerald City FC are separated by 2,730 miles, or a 49-hour drive if you follow the highways. They’re about as far apart as two U.S. cities can be, and their journeys to Aurora Sports Park in suburban Denver underscore both the quality of the event and the diverse range of locales encompassed by the NPL.
Teams from all across the country will convene from July 18-22 for the NPL Champions Cup, earning their spots after qualifying through one of the 17 NPLs that stretch from the Pacific Northwest to Florida, and from New England to Southern California.
Bringing such a wide range of clubs together yields several benefits that align with the NPL’s mission. It allows the nation’s best teams to face off in a true "champions league" style competition, testing themselves against new opponents while fostering player development by providing meaningful games and the exposure of a national stage.
Kendall SC and Emerald City FC certainly won’t be the only long-distance competitors on display, as they’ll be joined by teams from NPLs in all four corners of the country and points in between. So far, more than 110 teams have qualified for the 2013 NPL Champions Cup, and many more will add their names to the list as NPLs wrap up their seasons this summer.
Stay tuned for the next entry in the series, which will take a look at the player identification opportunities provided by the NPL Champions Cup.