SOUTH CENTRAL CONFERENCE PREVIEW
Expectations are high for the NPSL’s South Central Conference this season. And for good reason: the conference is one of the best in the country.
Tulsa Athletics, the defending conference champions, look to build off a successful 2014 season. They are again stocked with talent, thanks to the return of forward Dave Leung, defender Bradley Bourgeois, and midfielder Ray Saari. The Athletics will be without standouts Akeil Barrett and Tony Rocha after they were selected in the MLS SuperDraft. MLS veteran Chris Taylor is the team’s key newcomer.
Corinthians FC of San Antonio received a huge boost in the offseason, hiring World Cup veteran Manuel Vidrio as head coach. He looks to improve on last year’s 7W-3L-0D record, which resulted in a third place finish in the conference.
Dallas City FC has also made headlines this offseason, building their international connections and sending their best to the professional game. Alex Molano, Marlon Duran, and Kristian Quintama all return after starting every match for Dallas City. However, Moises Orozco, Gustavo Lozano, and Victor Garza each signed professional contracts and will be sorely missed. Head Coach Rahim Zafer, who is best known for his time with the Turkish National Team and Besiktas, hopes that newcomers Zac Adler and Joshua Hernandez will help fill that void.
The Joplin Demize have big plans for 2015. The high expectations start with a talented technical staff that includes Chris Hanlon, Johnny Adame, Armen Tonianse, and Luis Percovich. There is a ton of quality on the pitch with Luis Cadena coming off a strong season with MidAmerica Nazarene University and youngster Dominique Salcedo fighting for a spot on the first team. The Demize will miss the leadership of captain David Paul, who returned to the professional game.
Head coach Armando Peleaz leads the Liverpool Warriors into the 2015 season, knowing they need to improve on a 3W-6L-1D finish in 2014.
Fort Worth Vaqueros FC could very well be the most improved team in the entire South Region. The team already boasts one of the league’s best front office staffs, one that includes former MLS executive Michael Hitchcock, Director of Business Operations Xavier Tobias Lopez, and Head Coach Mark Snell. A number of talented players return for 2015, including Tyler Humphrey, Arturo Sanchez, Hilton Ngwa, and Nestor Martinez. Newcomers Abdoulaye Faly, Fidel Santamaria, and Dade Horton all look to contribute immediately to the Fort Worth backline, but the Vaqueros will miss the services of three players that turned pro: Zach Downes (Arizona United SC), Damian Rosales (Arizona United SC), and Austin Taylor (San Jose Earthquakes).
FC Wichita joins the conference as an expansion team while the Houston Regals return from hiatus. Wichita will be buoyed by the play of Nick Cramer, Shadow Sebele, and Matt Clare. Cramer is a local player who just completed his freshman season at UMKC as a First Team All-Conference selection.