It’s the first day of the hurricane season, which means the Tropical Weather Outlooks issued by the National Hurricane Center today contain the names that will be used this season along with their pronunciations. Here are my notes on where you may have heard a name before and which names have never been used before.

This set of names was first used in 1982. That season is rather famous for its inactivity. A few subsequent seasons that used this set of names were also relatively quiet. Because of that, only four of the original names have been retired, which makes this the list the least changed.

Alberto al-BAIR-toe – In 1982 he managed to go from nothing to hurricane and back to nothing in the short space between the Yucatan Peninsula and the coast of West Florida. Tropical storm in 1988 and 1994. Central Atlantic category 3 in 20002006 edition came ashore in Florida as a tropical storm.  Short-lived tropical storm in 2012. 2018’s Alberto  was a sub-stropical storm that remained a trackable entity far, far, inland.

2018’s Alberto


Beryl BEHR-ril – All six times were as a tropical storm (1982, 1988, 1994, 2000, 2006). 2012 version made landfall in Jacksonville Beach, FL and was the strongest landfalling May tropical cyclone since the May 29, 1908 hurricane.

Chris kris – Tropical storm in 1982 , 1988, and 2000. Hurricane at sea in 1994. 2006 tropical storm affected the Bahamas and Greater Antilles before abruptly dissipating. It was a category 1 hurricane at sea in 2012.

Debby DEH-bee – Category four hurricane at sea in 1982. Bay of Campeche hurricane in 1988. Tropical Storm in 1994. Leeward Islands hurricane in 2000. Tropical storm at sea in 2006. In 2012, it was a tropical storm that caused flooding in the Big Bend region of Florida.

Ernesto er-NES-toh – Until 2006, always a tropical storm and never a hurricane (1982, 1988, 1994, 2000). 2006 hurricane made first landfall near Guanatamo Bay, Cuba, weakend to a tropical storm and made subsequent landfalls in Dade County, Florida and Oak Island, North Carolina. Hit the Yucatan Peninsula as a category two hurricane in 2012.

Florence FLOOR-ence – Gulf of Mexico hurricane in 1988 (passed directly over New Orleans at tropical storm strength). At sea hurricane in 1994 and 2000 and 2006; latest of those affected Bermuda and Newfoundland. In 2012, it was a tropical storm in the east Atlantic.

Gordon GOR-duhn – This spot was held by Gilbert until after the 1988 season. In 1994 a hurricane with a wacky course (at TS strength) through the Caribbean Sea and Straits of Florida en route to briefly threaten the Outer Banks before turning back south. In 2000, the hurricane took a straight line course from the Yucatan to the Big Bend of Florida. 2006 ‘s version was a major hurricane at sea. The 2012 edition was a hurricane that affected the Azores.

Helene heh-LEEN – Category four at sea in 1988 and a tropical storm in 2000. Like Gordon, a major hurricane at sea in 2006. In 2012, a tropical depression formed in the deep tropics only to subsequently degenerate to a tropical wave before it crossed into the Caribbean. The remnants eventually reached the Bay of Campeche where they became Tropical Storm Helene.

Isaac EYE-zik – Tropical storm in 1988, category four at sea in 2000. A catagory one hurricane that weakened before brushing Nova Scotia in 2006. Last name to be used that year.  In 2012, Isaac was a category one hurricane that made landfall in Louisiana and was directly responsible for 34 deaths. most of which were due to flooding in Haiti.

Joyce joyss– This spot was held by Joan until after the 1988 season. Joyce debuted in 2000 as a hurricane that weakened before crossing into the Carribean. The 2012 version was a tropical storm in the deep tropics.

Kirk kurk – Added to the list in 2006, taking the spot held by Keith. Debuted in 2012 as a category two hurricane at sea.

Leslie LEHZ-lee – A tropical storm in 2000. In 2012, a category one hurricane that affected the Canadian maritimes as an extratropical storm.

Michael MY-kuhl – Hurricane in 2000. Hit Newfoundland as an extratropical system. 2012 hurricane made a couple of u-turns in the mid-Atlantic.

Nadine nay-DEEN – Tropical storm in 2000. The 2012 hurricane was not impressed by MIchael’s turning ability.


Hold my beer, Michael

Oscar AHS-kur – Quiet 2012 as a short lived mid-ocean tropical storm.

Patty PAT-ee – Also a forgettable 2012 tropical storm.

Rafael rah-fah-ELL –  2012 hurricane that caused flooding in the Caribbean and also brought heavy swells to the coast of Nova Scotia.

Sara SAIR-uh – Knee deep in the hoopla, this is the replacement name for Sandy

Tony TOH-nee – 2012 tropical storm in the deep Atlantic.

Valerie VAH-lur-ee and William WILL-yum have never been used.  The various hurricane season forecasts suggests that we are not likely to see either of those names or many of the names that we saw in 2012. As hurricanes Gilbert and Joan showed in 1988, however, a low number of storms is no guarantee of a lack of exceptionally destructive storms.


Well before the start of the season, I reviewed the schedule for the National Premier Soccer League’s Sunshine Conference. Here are some key points:

  • The conference consists of seven teams who play each other home and away.
  • The second and third place finishers play each other on Wednesday, July 11. The winner of that match plays the first place finisher on Saturday, July 14.
  • The first two match weeks consisted solely of Miami FC 2 and Miami United playing their fixture.
  • Partially because of the above point, the final regular season match for Miami FC 2 was scheduled for June 27.
  • Miami United had games scheduled for each weekend (and no mid-week matches). Their regular season ends June 30.
  • Jacksonville Armada, on the other hand, had a game scheduled for Saturday, July 7.

At the time of writing that post, Miami United was the only team participating in the United States Open Cup. However, Miami FC 2 and Jacksonville were subsequently invited to participate. This has affected the NPSL schedule for both clubs as they had games scheduled for the weekend on which they won their play-in games for the Cup tournament:

  • Jacksonville’s match at Storm FC was rescheduled to Wednesday, July 4.
  • Miami’s match versus Naples United was moved to Tuesday, July 3.
  • Additionally, due to a conflict with the 2nd round of the USOC, Miami’s match versus Boca Raton was moved to Saturday, July 7.

Because of that, Miami FC’s nice break before the playoffs is now gone. This would not necessarily hvae been a concern for them, had they pulled off to a lead in the conference already. Alas, they played Miami United to a draw in both the away and home legs of that fixture. Their only relief came in the form of a draw against Jacksonville, a match in which they were without two starters due to red cards from the second Miami United game.

Miami United, on the other hand followed their draws with victories against Naples United (3-0) and Boca Raton (4-0). As they did not have any mid-week matches on their schedule, their are still poised to have at least a week and a half break before the playoffs (a full two weeks off if they snag the top seed).

Jacksonville travels to Miami United on Sunday, May 27 and hosts Miami FC 2 Wednesday, June 6. That key mid-week match is preceded by hosting Storm FC on Saturday and followed by traveling to Palm Beach United three days later. They host Miami United on Saturday, June 23, which is followed by a Wednesday/Saturday/Wednesday/Saturday run of matches to close the regular season.

This Saturday marks the first full weekend of conference action. In their season opener, Storm FC host Miami United. Palm Beach United’s first match of the season is at Naples United. Finally, Jacksonville travels to Boca Raton.

No one has a match scheduled for May 23, the third round of the US Open Cup. With Miami FC 2 and Miami United playing each other in the second round it is guaranteed that one will advance. Meanwhile, Jacksonville hosts Tampa Bay Rowdies.  The winners of those two matches will play each other in the third round, presumably.  The Jacksonville-Miami FC 2 match scheduled for June 6 would conflict with the fourth round of the cup, however, should either team advance that far.

In front of Jacksonville’s home debut in 2018, here’s a look at the regulars who did not return to the club this season:

  • Caleb Patterson-Sewell – Jacksonville’s starting goalkeeper in 2017 set the club record for clean-sheets (10).  He signed with Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC in February. He has made two starts for United Soccer League side Toronto FC II and kept a clean sheet against New York Red Bulls II. His performance in that match got him onto the USL Team of the Week for match-week 7. He was also on the bench for two of the parent club’s matches.


  • Kyle Nasta- The former University of North Florida goalkeeper came up from Jacksonville’s U-23 squad. He started in one match in 2017 (while Patterson-Sewell was serving his one game suspension). Nasta appears to have moved on from professional soccer; his LinkedIn profile indicates that he is a freight broker for SunteckTTS in Jacksonville.



  • Kalen Ryden – Jacksonville’s starting left-back made every start but one in 2017. He signed with USL side Real Monarchs in March and has played in each of his team’s matches so far.  He headed in two goals against Portland Timbers 2 (2nd and 3rd goals in the highlight reel below), on March 31 and has started 3 other matches for his squad.


  • Bryam Rebellon – Playing as a defender and midfielder, Rebellon made 14 starts and appeared in 23 matches for Jacksonville in 2017. He signed with USL’s Swope Park Rangers in January where appeared in the first three matches for his team and has made one other appearance since.



  • Devon Fisher – The defender who went to the same high school as my father (Indian River) in the same city that we did (Chesapeake, Virginia) made four starts (total of seven appearances) for Jacksonville in 2017. My cursory searches did not yield any clues regarding what he is doing now.


  • Kevan George – The long-time Armada midfielder is the only player besides Mechack Jerome to log more than 5,000 minutes of playing time with the club. Charlotte Independence of the USL signed him in January. He has started five matches (out of six).


  • Zach Steinberger – The scorer of 2017’s North American Soccer League Goal of the Year  is back home again in Indiana.  He has started in four matches and made appearances in the other two. It seems that the new manager of Indy Eleven is yet to sort out his roster and Steinberger has played a couple of different roles in midfield as part of the process.


  • Jack Blake – The scorer of Jacksonville Armada’s only hat trick so far and NASL Young Player of the Year in 2017 was initially loaned to Tampa Bay Rowdies in February, but signed a permanent contract with the team in March.   He has started five out of seven matches and scored a goal in the season opener against North Carolina FC.  He has also being doing a feature for USL called “The BlakeDown” in which he provides analysis of highlights from the previous week’s worth of league action. The most recent episode is linked below.


  • Jemal Johnson – The player with the most appearances in Armada history signed with USL expansion team Fresno Football Club in January. Most famous for scoring the first goal ever for Jacksonville, he repeated the feat for Fresno, though it took him a little bit longer, 73 minutes vice 12 seconds.  He has made seven out of eight starts and currently leads the team with three goals .

  • Nicklas Maripuu – The Swede who made 27 starts for Jacksonville over two seasons signed with IFK Mariehamn of the Finnish Premier Divison where he has made five starts. (source)


  • Brian Shriver – Acquired from North Carolina FC in a mid-season trade, the forward made five starts and appeared in another seven matches for Jacksonville.  He signed with USL’s Richmond Kickers in January and has started in all six matches for his new team. He scored goals in consecutive matches against New York Red Bulls II and Louisville City FC.


  • Tony Taylor – The Jacksonville University graduate with MLS experience scored three goals in twelve matches for Jacksonville last year. He signed with Ottawa Fury in February.  With five starts, he has appeared in all six matches for his USL side.


  • Charles Eloundu – The Cameroonian who scored three goals in three consecutive matches in the Fall of 2016 signed with Cyprus squad Nea Salamis. He has scored four goals in seventeen appearances (source)

Continued best wishes to all of them as they further their  careers.

94 North American Soccer League matches.

5 United States Open Cup matches.

1 National Premier Soccer League match.

With 100 competitive matches in the book for Jacksonville Armada, here are seven games that are memorable to me or otherwise noteworthy and three games that Jacksonville fans would rather forget.

1. “The Debut”, “12 seconds” – vs FC Edmonton – April 4, 2015

The first match in club history is still the biggest.  There were 16,164 fans at Everbank Field who did not have to wait long to see the home team score its first goal:


Goals by Alhassane Keita and Marcos Flores followed in the first half and a downpour of rain in the second half didn’t dampen the spirits of the fans remaining in attendance when the final whistle blew on a 3-1 victory for the home team.

Armada FC Sets Modern-Day NASL Attendance Record in 3-1 WinRecord crowd enjoys fast start, opening win for Jacksonville Armada


2. “Remembering Pulse Night Club” – vs Orlando City – June 15, 2016

Jacksonville’s first (and thus far only) competitive match against a Major League Soccer side was all but guaranteed to be a memorable one.  An off the pitch events and reaction to it made it so. The mass shooting at Pulse night club happened on Sunday, June 12. The US Open Cup match on the following Wednesday was Orlando’s first since the tragedy.

Armada supporters sported scarves from a LGBT Pride Night that Jacksonville had sponsored earlier in the season. In the 49th minute, the crowd, which included a healthy amount of traveling support for Orlando, the crowd stood for a minute’s applause in memory of the shooting victims. Orlando scored in the 62nd minute and despite a late attack, Jacksonville was unable to equalize. The match remains memorable, despite the result.

Despite Arguably Better Chances, Armada Falls 1-0 to Orlando City ,  Orlando FC edges Armada in U.S. Open Cup

While this scarf wasn’t made for Jacksonville’s US Open Cup versus Orlando, I will always associate this scarf with that match.


3. “Bonkers” – vs New York Cosmos – October 22, 1017

With a playoff spot on the line, 7,611 fans filled Hodges Stadium. While they did not get the hoped-for win, they cannot say that they were not entertained. Eight goals being scored by eight different players has a way of doing that. While Jacksonville enjoyed a 3-1 lead at half-time, New York scored the next three goals and was leading in the 77th minute.  Charles Eloundu equalized two minutes later. The match ended under wild circumstances as the referee blew the final whistle as New York were poised to score on an empty net and irate Cosmos players and staff stormed the pitch in protest.

(Alas, I was not at this match as it conflicted with my “one weekend a month” for the Navy Reserves. In my three years and counting as a season ticket holder, I have been lucky to miss few matches; this was an unfortunate exception.)

Cosmos comeback denies Armada in home finale,  The fight is not over


4. “First Road Win”, “Mark Lowry’s Debut” – at Ottawa Fury – August 13, 2016

Jacksonville went through four coaches and 25 matches before finally winning a game on the road. It came in Mark Lowry’s first match after taking the helm from Tony Meola. Ottawa scored in the 26th minute and Alhassane Keita was quick to notch the equalizer. As the minutes passed by, it appeared that it was going to be business as usual for Jacksonville away from home until Keita headed in a cross from Jemal Johnson to score the game winner.

Armada Says Goodbye to Road Winless Streak in Dramatic 2-1 Win, Keita, Armada end road woes


5. “Hot Finish” – vs New York Cosmos – October 15, 2016

This match has stuck with me because it made me think of old-time professional wrestling. When a traveling show featured an ending in which the bad guy came out victorious in sketchy circumstances, the promoters would advise local police that there was going to be a “hot finish” and that they should be on the lookout for angry fans departing the venue. While not by design, this match fit the template otherwise.

New York carried a one goal lead into the second half, which was equalized by Alhassane Keita in the 66th minute. Zach Steinberger scored in the 79th minute to give Jacksonville the lead and players and fans alike thought all was well. All hell broke loose three minutes later, however.  New York  scored on a free kick that Armada players thought to have been saved by Miguel Gallardo. Gallardo and Keita were shown yellow cards for their subsequent argument with the referee; the card was the second for Keita. An exceptionally furious fun of play followed and it did not end well for Jacksonville. A second goal on a free kick by Juan Arango followed to give New York a lead that was sealed by a Jairo Arrieta strike in the 95th minute. What looked to be an Armada victory ended as a 4-2 defeat that made the blood of Jacksonville fans boil.

Arango’s late free kicks deny Armada Armada Fall Short After Mounting Stunning Comeback Against New York Cosmos


6. “Jack Blake Hat Trick” – at Indy Eleven – August 26, 2017

The words “prolific goal scoring” and “road victory” were not ones that would be associated with Jacksonville Armada during its first two seasons of play, much less  together.  Mark Lowry has changed that somewhat. This match, in which Jacksonville went on the road and Jack Blake scored the first hat trick in club history is a reminder of that.

                                        The match that got its own t-shirt

Blake’s Hat-Trick Catapults Armada Back into Playoff ContentionBlake nets first club hat trick, propels Armada past Indy


7. “Tommy K Beats the Cosmos” – vs New York Cosmos – July 18, 2015

The inaugural Jacksonville Armada roster was a mishmash of international veteran journeymen and relatively inexperienced locals. Tommy Krizanovic fell into the latter category.  That did not deter him from scoring the goal that ended an 11 match unbeaten streak for New York and a 324 minute scoreless drought for Jacksonville.

Armada Smash Cosmos’ 11-Match Unbeaten Streak in Fall Home Opener , David Sierra, Jacksonville Armada hold off New York Cosmos


Honorable Mention: at San Francisco Deltas – May 19, 2017

This is certainly a moment of pride for Jacksonville during its period of league-ownership and subsisting on a shoe-string budget. Having traveled to Miami on a Wednesday night for a U.S. Open Cup match, Jacksonville came back home only to go back to south Florida to fly out for a Friday night match against San Francisco. Jacksonville fans watching the stream on Twitter were treated to a stellar performance that featured two goals by Zach Steinberger and one by Derek Gebhard to give the good guys a 3-0 victory. Jubilant fans dominated the accompanying chat in which Section 904 all but held a roll call. While San Francisco won the league, they never defeated Jacksonville

Steinberger shines as Armada sinks Deltas , Shutout Road Win Vaults Armada Into Second Place

Here’s hoping that 2018 gives Jacksonville some good home memories to add to this list; a victory against Miami FC 2 on June 6 would certainly fit the bill.


Those were some of the good. Here are three of the bad and the ugly.

1. at Richmond Kickers – May 27, 2015

Somehow I managed to watch the stream of this one from start to finish. In its first US Open Cup match, Jacksonville started a reserve side (one starter made his only appearance for the club in this match) against then third tier United Soccer League side Richmond Kickers. The result was painful to watch as Armada struggled while Richmond ran wild and scored two goals in the first half. Jemal Johnson came on at the start of the second half, but Richmond scored again to win 3-0.

Armada bounced from U.S. Open Cup, Strong Defensive Showing From Richmond Stifles Armada FC, 3-0

2. at Indy Eleven – August 3, 2016

As mentioned earlier, road games were not highlights for Jacksonville in the early days. This mid-week match was the worst of the worst. Eamon Zayed became the first (and thus far only) player to notch a hat trick against Armada and Indy scored the most goals that Jacksonville has ever conceded. Keita finding the net to end a 455 minute scoring drought for Jacksonville was the lone highlight of this 5-2 drubbing that could be thought of as the ignominious end to the Tony Meola era (though he did coach Jacksonville’s match three days later, a draw versus Carolina that marked his final match).

Keita Finds Back of Net in Loss , Scoreless streak ends but win eludes Armada

3. “Hotter than Hell” – vs Minnesota FC – August 20, 2016

This match was scheduled to be played in the evening. With Jacksonville’s quaint alternative football team playing a pre-season game at Everbank field that night, though, this match kicked off at 2:30 PM instead. The searing heat forced the supporters group Section 904 to decamp from its usual home in the (uncovered) right field bleachers behind goal to a covered section behind a corner of the field. Temperatures in the mid-90’s made for languid play in a match that featured only one shot on goal and ended in a 0-0 draw.

Armada and Minnesota United play to scoreless tieArmada Stifles Potent United Attack in Scoreless Draw



26 wins 33 draws 41 losses

Most Goals: Alhassane Keita – 14

Most Assists: Jemal Johnson – 10

Most Clean Sheets: Caleb Patterson-Sewell – 10

Most Starts: Mechack Jerome – 67

Most Appearances: Jemal Johnon – 75


Like Jacksonville Armada, Miami FC and New York Cosmos found refuge in the National Premier Soccer League after the effective dissolution of the North American Soccer League. All teams faced being ineligible for this year’s US Open Cup as a consequence.  Each were omitted from the listing of participating teams when the format for this year’s tournament was published earlier this month.

As lawyer and soccer fan Miki Turner aptly explains, however, this was an ostensibly unfair outcome for the three teams. That is because the timing of events left them no realistic opportunity to make themselves eligible for the tournament once it became clear that they wouldn’t be eligible via NASL affiliation. The teams protested to the US Open Cup Committee, which upon review of the situation, announced that the three teams are invited to participate  (all three did so in short order).

The teams, will not, though, enter at the same point in the tournament as they would have if they were still NASL afilliates. Nor will they simply enter in the first round. All will play against NPSL or Premier Development League teams in a “play-in round” held on the May 5/6 weekend prior to the start of the first round proper on May 9.  In the balance of this post, I will show the scheduling challenges Jacksonville and Miami face as well as identify their potential opponents in the play-in round.

As currently scheduled, the May 5/6 weekend is the first full slate of matches in the NPSL Sunshine Conference. Jacksonville plays at Storm FC (Lauderhill) on Saturday and Miami FC 2 plays at Naples United on Sunday. Those matches would need to be moved. Also, Miami has a game scheduled for May 12, the same date as the 2nd round of the Cup. The compact nature of the schedule makes rescheduling these matches tricky.

Both teams could simply move their May 5/6 matches to mid-week (May 2) That option is a little bit more appealing for Miami than Jacksonville as Miami is off on the weekend of 12/13, but Jacksonville plays at Boca Raton. Jacksonville could reschedule to May 19/20, but that would leave the potential for Play-In game -> Round 1 -> League Game -> Round 2 -> League Game sequence in a two-week span, a similar sequence to what they would experience if they rescheduled to May 2. The prospect of rescheduling to April 25 would be more palpable as it would give the opportunity of a tune-up match before the big match against Miami FC 2 on the 28th. (In these scenarios, of course, I am assuming facility availability is not a problem).

Miami’s scheduled match at Boca Raton on May 16 would conflict with a second round Cup match if Miami were to advance to that stage of the tournament. Short of moving that match forward (where there wouldn’t be many open windows anyhow, if Miami moved its May 5/6 match forward), the only open window is July 7/8, the last weekend of the regular season. Miami might not mind that, especially if they are positioned to be the number 1 seed in the playoffs.

As for Jacksonville’s and Miami’s potential opponents in the Play-In Round, their invitation states

The opponents in the Play-In Round will be one team drawn from the NPSL and two from the Premier Development League (PDL) who have already qualified for the competition and are in close geographical proximity to the three invited teams. After identifying the list of possible opponents meeting this criteria, the exact opponents will be selected by random draw in cases where multiple options exist.

There are a total of six already qualified teams that could be considered in close proximity to Jacksonville and/or Miami: South Georgia Tormenta FC (Statesboro), The Villages SC, SIMA Aguilas (Monteverde), Lakeland Tropics, FC Miami City, and Miami United.   In my following discussion, I am going to make two assumptions: 1. Every team is able and willing to host. 2. All teams are equally competitive within reason.

This table shows the travel distances between the various teams and Miami+Jacksonville as measured by Google Maps from stadium to stadium

Now, the USOC Committee could simply have Miami FC 2 draw one of the other two Miami teams as its opponents. That would not be fair to Jacksonville. It would me fairer to split the six potential opponents into two pots: The Miamis plus Lakeland in one pot (to be the opponent of Miami FC 2) and The Villages, Sima Aguilas, and South Georgia Tormenta in the other (to be Jacksonville’s opponent). Jacksonville would at least have a chance (albeit only 33%) to travel a shorter distance than Miami FC 2. In a worst case scenario, the two teams would travel 407 miles combined.

Putting all of the Florida teams in one pot would not improve matters; Jacksonville’s chances of having a shorter trip than Miami would drop to 30%. Also, it would open the illogical possibility of Jacksonville traveling to Miami while Miami FC 2 goes to The Villages;  630 miles combined.

Putting all six teams into one pot would be fairer yet for Jacksonville; their chances of having a shorter trip than Miami would improve to 40%. However, the worst case travel scenario would worsen to a combined 866 miles if Miami had to go to Statesboro while Jacksonville traveled to Miami.

The invitation does not make clear when this draw will take place.  One would presume that it would occur before the 1st round draw takes place on Wednesday (April 4), but it could simply be earlier in the day rather than earlier in the week. Either way, fans of Jacksonville Armada and Miami FC 2 suddenly have an eagerly anticipated event in the near future.



April 28 was the scheduled first home game for Jacksonville Armada this season. It has since been pushed farther back, to June 2. Despite that gloom, I have gotten more excited about the season to come. Part of that was due to listening to a Roots Up podcast episode that provided a nifty look at the Sunshine Conference of the National Premier Soccer League, the Armada’s home for the immediate time-being.

That episode caused me to take a peek at the schedule for the entire league. I found that while the Armada’s season does not start until April 28, conference play starts two weeks earlier, on April 14. I also noticed a couple of things that could affect who will represent the Sunshine Conference in the NPSL playoffs in July.

Jacksonville is one of seven teams in the conference. Miami FC,under the guise of Miami FC 2, is a fellow displaced NASL refugee team. After taking a hiatus in 2017, Pembroke Pines based Storm FC is back. Palm Beach United is the new name for Beaches FC. Boca Raton FC and Naples United joined in 2017. With last year’s champion Miami Fusion apparently folded, Miami United is the highest finisher from last year and is the senior team in the conference.

The season consists of 12 games played over 13 match-weeks with each team playing one another home and away. For the first time, the conference will have a playoff to determine its champion. The 2nd place team will play the 3rd place team mid-week at Central Boward Regional Park in Lauderhill on July 11. The winner of that match will play the 1st place finisher on the following Saturday with the winner advancing into the NPSL playoffs.

While there are 13 match-weeks, starting on April 15, the first full slate of games is not until the fourth week. The first two weeks of the season are only Miami United and Miami FC2 playing their pair of games with each-other. Both teams play in the third week (versus Jacksonville and Naples). Palm Beach United is the “odd team out” in the fourth week; the Miami teams will have both played four games before Palm Beach plays any.

As one might imagine, this sets up Palm Beach United for relatively hellacious fixture congestion.Starting on June 9, they play Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday (at Jacksonville), Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, Tuesday without a break. Storm FC also has a notable period of congestion with five games played in the span of two weeks.  Miami FC 2 has a Saturday-Wednesday-Saturday-Wednesday run of games, all on the road.  However, that combined with playing in the first two weeks, sets them up to be the first team to finish the regular season with the final match falling on June 27, 14 days before the playoffs start.

Miami United, on the other hand, by the NPSL schedule, has a straight-forward 12 games in 12 weeks; no mid-week matches.  However, they are the only team in the conference eligible for the US Open Cup whose first round proper is on May 9 (middle of the conference’s fourth match week).  If they were to win, their next game would be on May 16. Because of this, they could receive a bit of match congestion as well. Like Miami FC2, though, they have a bit of a break before the play-offs as their last game is on June 30.

The prediction offered on the podcast by Route One Soccer,hints that the league will be a duke-out between Miami FC2 and Jacksonville with Miami United looking to clean up scraps and lead the NPSL regulars behind the NASL refugees.  One would expect that the first weeks of the season, with the two Miamis taking care of their series, will show whether Miami United is going to be in the mix for the top of the table or (at best) the best of the rest. With the third week of the season featuring Jacksonville at Miami FC2, the early part of the season may very well be key, assuming that the prediction is broadly accurate.

After the season opener at Miami, Jacksonville’s key games fall in the May 27-June 9 span. Those matches are at Miami United on a Sunday, followed by hosting Storm FC on a Saturday and Miami FC2 on the Wednesday following, and then going to Palm Beach on Saturday. Unlike the two Miamis, Jacksonville plays on the weekend before the playoffs begin. As such, they will be especially keen to establish themselves at the top of the table to get the bye to the conference championship game.

If events follow expectations, we may have a very good idea of how the play-offs will look by mid-June. Otherwise, it may come down to who catches the breaks of playing fatigued teams down the stretch or whether said fatigued teams can overcome. A reminder, though, that this all presumes fair weather. One tropical cyclone could put this reckoning awry; A footnote to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria was the storm’s impact on the NASL. The storm’s effect on Puerto Rico FC arguably affected how the final part of the season played out for playoff contenders.




As was the case last year, no one asked me for recommendations. I will offer a few nonetheless.

When I first started thinking about writing this post, I realized that (by my standards at least), I have not read many books this year. I went through a period of months where I was too anxious to sit down and get comfortable with a book.I didn’t appreciate how anxious I was until I came back from a week spent on the Appalachian Trail and “drifting” with my father in my Spitfire. The first time I curled up with a book thereafter, I realized what had been absent from my life for the past several months.

Due to that, I am inclined to think that I have read fewer books this year than any other year. There are three contenders :

  • The year I spent in Iraq.  Though I did read Don Quixote (and a few other books), so there is a quality over quantity argument to be made.
  • The year in which half of it was spent on deployment on the USS Spruance (RIP). Though I did get through half of the Master & Commander series during that time underway, so I doubt that I read more books this year.
  • The year I joined the Navy. While there obviously wasn’t much reading in the run-up to and during boot camp, I do remember doing a fair bit during ‘A’ school. I specifically remember re-reading James Webb’s A Sense of Honor as well as (for the first time) Fields of Fire .

There wasn’t anything disruptive like these events in my life this year. Just run-of-the-mill anxiety and unhappiness.

Anyhow, here are a few suggestions based on what I read this year:

  • The Fall of the Ottomans by Eugene Rogan
    • This was a Christmas gift from my sister. One may struggle to find relevance to present time when reading about the western front of World War I, but will have no such trouble when reading about the eastern front. I bought a number of books as follow-up reading to this. I’ll mention two here:
      • The Berlin-Baghdad Express by Sean McMeekin
        • I ended up doing yet more follow-up reading of this books, which among other things covers how the Germans tried to use jihad as a weapon against the British.
      • When God Made Hell: The British Invasion of Mesopotamia and the Creation of Iraq 1914-1921 by Charles Townshend
        • A story of mission creep and struggle under absolutely miserable conditions. Soldiers of this campaign who came from the trenches of the western front would say that the soldiers in France had no idea of how bad things can be. The largest surrender of British forces since Yorktown took place in Iraq.
  • The War of the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa
    • I found out about Mario Vargas Llosa via news of his winning the 2010  Nobel Prize in Literature in 2010. In a marvelously random fashion, I have read most (but still not all) of his works. Only this year, I found and read his memoir (A Fish in the Water) , which describes a number of his life experiences that became enshrined in novels (as well as running for President of Peru in 1990). It was at that point that I became appreciative of how wonderful of an experience I have had reading his books in no particular order and glad that I didn’t come across his memoir until then.
    • This book, which is considered to be his masterpiece, was the first of his that I read. I shall not attempt to describe or explain it. I will just say that it is what got me locked into his works. I didn’t read this book this year, but I did read a couple of other of his that I would never have noticed or touched otherwise.
  • When Nobody Was Watching by Carli Lloyd
    • Emblematic of my lengthening queue of unread books, I bought this book when it was released last year, but I am pretty sure I didn’t read it until the winter of this year. The same was true of Abby Wambach’s memoir and I got far more out of Lloyd’s than hers. Having been dropped from the Under 21 Women’s National Team, Lloyd nearly quit soccer. She reluctantly met with a trainer named James Galanis who evaluated her and told her that she lacked fitness, was mentally weak, and had poor character. Eleven and a half years later, she would score a hat trick in the final of the Women’s World Cup.