Out of the provisional "Central conference", the National Premier Soccer League have created an official "North conference.
Of most import to me, Dakota Fusion are one of the newcomers.
Here's their press release:
BREAKING NEWS FOR NORTH DAKOTA SOCCERWORLD
No need to shout, DF.
Dakota Fusion Becomes Full Member of the NPSL. Dakota Fusion FC is excited to announce that it will join the NPSL beginning in the summer of 2017.
Seems fair so far.
DFFC is the first locally owned semi-professional soccer club in Fargo, ND.
I'm not gonna let this slide. It is a snide and ultimately empty "first" because FC Fargo were the first competitive outdoor amateur team in Fargo-Moorhead.
Semi-Pro isn't actually a thing in the US system. You are either professional (MLS, USL, NASL - at time of writing) or amateur (everything else)
Launched by Amanda and Sajid Ghauri in February 2016, DFFC went 4 – 2 in their inaugural season competing against two APL teams, unaffiliated semi-pro clubs and amateur teams.
A commendable enough record, albeit without facing the APL champs (FCF) or Open Cup trailblazers Minneapolis City.
DFFC seeks to provide the FM community with quality soccer entertainment as well as creating a lasting professional soccer culture.
Firstly, it's only fair to point out that "DFFC seeks" is hedging their bets.
Secondly, fans create soccer culture, not clubs.
Thirdly, no one in the American system really knows what clubs will last and which will not. Maybe they should have started with an aim of attracting large crowds, something we didn't manage.
The club endeavors to develop local talent that will be recognized and promoted to higher levels of the game while building meaningful connections to the FM community through community service. DFFC operates a training pathway exposing local talent to a more professional and competitive format.
This is something we, at FC Fargo, struggled to actualise. Thankfully for them, Fusion were founded by the vice-chairman of one of this area's biggest - and most successful - youth soccer clubs, Tri-City Storm.
They then ramble at length about NPSL. Trust me, you can Google anything they said. I'll leave it out.
Minneapolis City FC and Duluth FC from this region also joined NPSL up to date. I am ready to show Duluth FC and Minneapolis FC our ND power during our conference games.
"From this region" is a curiously strangled phrase. In my experience, Fargo-Moorhead has little to do with Duluth (242 miles East, Google says that's a 4.5 hr drive. The two don't share any local media).
Fargo (biggest city in ND) and Minneapolis (biggest city in MN) have more potential for a rivalry but, as our experiences last year showed, Mpls fans tend to see Fargo as country cousins and Milwaukee as more relevant rivals. That said, Milwaukee have been moved to the Great Lakes conference.
There are 235 miles between Fargo and the Cities on I-94. About 3.5 miles of driving.
Also, the flipping round of names indicates these guys need a copy checker.
DFFC is going to be a power house. We are able to achieve all this with the help of our Fans and sponsors.
Interestingly, they don't mention what definition they use for this most abused of soccer phrases. For example, someone recently described Manchester City as a "European Powerhouse", despite them having only won a few trophies in a hundred years.
To be fair, their crowds off the pitch and success on it will mostly decide whether this label fits.
We will have two Venues, Shanley High school, Fargo, ND and Moorhead High school, Moorhead, MN.
Presuming they mean Jim Gotta Stadium at Moorhead High and not the neighboring hockey rink, we played at both these venues and failed to attract consistent crowds. It is also difficult to keep a consistent message when your home stadium is actually two, in different cities and different states.
We shall see. I genuinely wish them luck, I want to be able to see some soccer in person, not just on TV.
Aside from Duluth, Minneapolis City and Fusion, this new division includes:
Sioux Falls Thunder (South Dakota - 244 miles straight South on I-29). I would argue ND v SD is more of a viable rivalry.
Viejos Son Los Trapos FC is in St Paul, the capital of Minnesota, home of Minnesota Wild NHL and future home of the Loons. An obvious potential rival for Minneapolis City. They have a long background in the Minnesota Amateur Soccer League, as do Minneapolis City's parent club Stegman's.
TwinStars FC is another team with St Paul roots although they have been mostly based in the suburbs of the Twin Cities metro. They have a very successful academy.
Aris SC began in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and then moved South to La Crosse (140 miles SE of St Paul and 395 miles SE of Fargo). They sucked in the NPSL and then sucked in the APL. They are back to the NPSL.
Med City FC is in Rochester, MN - home of the Mayo Clinic, hence the name. It's 321 miles SE of Fargo and more notably only 74 miles West of La Crosse and 77 miles South of St Paul.
What the makeup of this conference points towards for me is a cluster of rivals in southern Minnesota, with the additional border city La Crosse and Fargo once again an outlier.