The National Premier Soccer League finally announced the 2019 schedule for the Southeast Conference, home of our Greenville FC, on Thursday. With the release came the confirmation of some rumors, an exciting exhibition match, and a sigh of relief for many fans. Let’s break down the highlights of Greenville FC’s second season.
From 8 to 6
Several months back Emerald Force (Knoxville) announced that they would not return for the 2019 NPSL season and would instead focus on their youth clubs. Around that same time, the New Orleans Jesters social media accounts completely disappeared for a period. While they eventually came back, many in the soccer community were left wondering if the team were planning to return for 2019.
With the release of the schedule, rumors were confirmed that the Jesters would not be playing in the league this season. Chris Kivlehan of Midfield Press posted a copy of a press release that New Orleans had posted for a brief time that outlined the clubs intention to “build for the future” by focusing on youth clubs and preparing to turn professional in the future.
With the conference dropping from eight to six teams, the playoff teams will also be reduced from six to four, with the semi-finals and finals taking place in Chattanooga over a single weekend.
An Exciting Exhibition
With Greenville FC’s schedule release came a fun surprise; a mid-season exhibition against USL League Two side Tri-Cities Otters (Tennessee). The Otters finished 5-7-2 in the Deep South Division last season. Perhaps the most exciting thing about the Otters is their branding and jerseys. I, for one, cannot wait to watch this team in person.
More important that the opponent is the inclusion of an exhibition match this season, especially with the reduced number of league games. Last year’s scheduled exhibition with the Savannah Clovers was at first postponed due to weather, and ultimately cancelled outright due to scheduling issues. This would therefore be the first exhibition in team history.
Looking at the Specifics
There was a lot to be excited about regarding Greenville FC’s schedule release. First and foremost, the only non-weekend game is the Thursday night exhibition against the Otters. Every league home game is at 7:00pm on a Saturday with the sole exception of the May 31st Friday night match-up against Atlanta SC. Not having any midweek games will, in my opinion, be a tremendous boost to the potential attendance at home games.
Another exciting piece of news coming from the schedule release is that there is not a single conflict of home dates between Greenville FC and the Greenville Triumph. For fans looking to support both teams, this came as a welcomed relief and should only boost the support for both teams.
The fans have to also be pleased at the home and away balance in the schedule. There is never more than a two week break between home matches. This should help keep the momentum rolling strong all season. While Greenville FC start on the road again this year, they finish up with two home games to end the regular season.
This year’s Carolina Clasico will be decided by early June as Asheville City travels to Greenville for the first home game of the season on May 11. Greenville will then head north on June 8th for the second leg of the rivalry match-up.
Season two is lining up to be an exciting sophomore outing for the boys in green and gold. Which matches are you most excited to see this year? What do you think are the team’s chances of making a playoff run in year two?