This past Sunday saw the full return of the Delaware River Conference of the Eastern Premier Soccer League. EPSL is a regional amateur soccer league comprising of four conferences: Northeast Conference, Metropolitan Conference, Mid-Atlantic Conference, and the Delaware River Conference. Teams from Philadelphia and the surrounding area play in the Delaware River Conference and an exciting new partnership has been created with CASA soccer league to establish promotion and relegation between the two leagues; CASA has created a new division called the CASA Select division for promotion /relegation with EPSL.
I recently sat down with Jim Breslin of the CASA board to get some details about the CASA Select Division and the pro/rel structure with EPSL.
What is the CASA Select division?
The Casa Select Division is a league affiliated with U.S. Soccer, USASA Region 1 & FIFA via its membership in the Eastern Pennsylvania Soccer Association (EPSA). The league matches have three U.S. Soccer Certified Referees, two linesman and a center ref. Slide tackling is allowed.
Clubs in the league are eligible to enter local qualifying for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup among other local and National Cups. The U.S. Open Cup is the same tournament that the approximately 100 professional teams are mandated to participate in. If one of our CASA teams can win around five games in a row in the qualifying rounds vs local amateur competition they could end up playing a professional team in the U.S. Open Cup!
Does the CASA Select division fit into the overall pro/rel CASA structure including the CASA Primera division?
CASA Select is not connected with CASA Primera. CASA Primera is at the top of CASA’s “traditional” divisions, which play on Saturday and are not U.S. affiliated, and have their own ruleset. CASA Select aims to build out its own affiliated pyramid of teams that mirrors the seven traditional promotion / relegation divisions that play on Saturdays. That being said, teams from both Saturday and Sunday CASA leagues can compete in the CASA League Cup, an FA-Cup style knockout tournament.
There are no immediate plans to connect CASA Select with CASA Primera and the other CASA divisions. Competitive players play in both types of leagues, traditional and affiliated, but each offers a different product that is custom tailored to the players that play in it.
Who are the teams in CASA Select?
-Bucks County FC
-Drexel Hill Elite
-Liberty City Football Club
-Sierra Stars Football Club
-Vietnam Philly United
For me I am thrilled at the diversity and talent level of the new clubs. We have clubs entering who are successful veterans of CASA and clubs that have been successful in traveling to play in prize money tournaments, that have now found a league to call home that fits their culture. We have clubs representing different cultures and countries from Vietnam, Brazil, Nepal and Sierra Leone. We have clubs representing geographic areas like Bucks County, Upper Darby, Southwest Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia, New Jersey, Kensington and as far away as Harrisburg. All games for the division will be played on quality turf pitches in Philadelphia.
As I enter the rosters for the league I recognize and I am heartened by the many quality players from the area being added to the squads.
Will all the teams play the same number of games?
Yes. The teams will play round robin style, 1 game vs each team in the league during the regular season.
Is there prize money?
There will be around $3,000 in prize money disbursed to teams at the conclusion of Spring Season.
The breakdown is as follows:
Regular season 1st place in Table: 60%
Regular season 2nd place in Table: 20%
Regular season 3rd place in Table: 10%
Playoff winner: 20%
Will there be playoffs?
2nd place in standings vs 5th place in standings
3rd place in standings vs 4th place in standings
Final is the winner of 2v5 vs winner of 3v4.
Will there be promotion/relegation with EPSL?
For me this is the most important. Clubs compete on the pitch for what level league they can compete in, instead of buying their way in and shows leagues working together instead of against each other, for the good of the game.
The table winner of CASA Select is offered automatic promotion to EPSL.
The 12th place team of EPSL is automatically relegated to their local league.
The winner of the CASA Select Liga 1 playoffs would play the 11th place EPSL team in an high stakes, exciting playoff. The loser of the match would be relegated to their local league and the winner would be offered promotion to EPSL.
For relegation example, if EPSL team Philadelphia Soccer Club was relegated they would go to CASA. If Real Central NJ was relegated they would go to the Garden State Soccer League.
How is the champion determined?
The champion of CASA Select Liga 1 would be the table winner just like in the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, etc.
The playoffs are for a second potential EPSL promotion spot.
Any other relevant info to know?
All the EPSL Conferences are capped at 12 teams. This is to facilitate EPSL working with local leagues like CASA Soccer instead of competing against them. This allows for local leagues like CASA to grow unfettered and in collaboration with other leagues and focus on what they know best, which is serving their clubs and players.
Once we have enough clubs for a second division we will launch CASA Select Liga 2.
Next year the plan is to have 12 clubs in Liga 1 and play a full 22 game Fall/Spring European style season. The prize pool for the season with 12 clubs for the full year would be $12,000.