Kingston Stockade FC announced their 2017 schedule this week, with the season set to begin with a home match at Dietz Stadium against Hartford City FC on Saturday, May 6. The season runs through Saturday, July 8 when Stockade visits Boston City FC.
Though the schedule runs roughly the same amount of time as last season, each club will play four fewer games, a move in part inspired by the addition of three new clubs to the North Atlantic Conference of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). With 12 teams in the conference, the league settled on an even split, with Stockade FC joining familiar foes Boston City FC, Rhode Island Reds FC, Seacoast United Mariners and New York Athletic Club SC, along with the new Hartford City FC in North Atlantic Blue. Stockade will play two games each against the teams in North Atlantic Blue, plus a pair of crossover games against clubs in North Atlantic White: Kingston will host TSF FC, a new club from Wayne, New Jersey, on the final home match of the season on Monday, July 3. They’ll hit the road for a crossover match against the Brooklyn Italians on Saturday, June 17.
While the conference split is a sign of the growing success of the NPSL, Stockade Chairman Dennis Crowley said the reduction in the number of games should also be good for the quality of play.
“It should be a hell of a lot easier on everyone,” Crowley said, noting that it was Stockade’s introduction to the league a year ago that caused teams to squeeze so many matches into such a short season. “Last year we were the expansion team that joined the North Atlantic Conference, and so we pushed it from eight to nine teams. It was a lot of games. One of the reasons that the teams voted to split the conference after three other teams joined is because that was way too many games for all of us to play.”
Player health should be a benefit of both the lighter schedule and also changes in when the games are played. Kingston’s inaugural season was marked by numerous scheduling clusters — half of the team’s games were played on consecutive days — an issue that was further compounded by an often sweltering summer. The club ran into numerous weather issues during 2016, including hot days that not only sapped the players’ energy but also cooked the home faithful in the Dietz stands. The club addressed the matter of heat by scheduling most of its games, including all six at Dietz, for later in the day than a year ago. All weekend home matches will begin at 5 p.m. this season, with the Monday night visit from TSF FC starting an hour later to allow people with regular work schedules to get to the stadium.
“I took a note in my notebook every home game that we had on when the sun left the stadium,” said Crowley, adding that by 5 p.m. the worst of the heat had usually passed. “There was tons of feedback from the fans, and we also did a survey with the players, and they said that turf was so hot. And I think it’s going to be good for pushing people into local businesses, too. Last year everything revolved around the farmer’s market. I think this year it’s, ‘Let’s get people to hang out Uptown before and after matches.’”
Last season, Stockade played a pair of games against each of their conference foes, one at Dietz, the other on the road. They went 5-8-3 overall, finishing in seventh place. Stockade FC was 5-3 at home last season, including a run of three straight to open their home schedule. In their final three home games, the club went 2-1, outscoring their opponents 12-2 over that run.
Stockade FC opens its second season — its first under new Head Coach David Lindholm — at home on Saturday, May 6 at 5 pm. against Hartford City. They next play on the road against New York Athletic Club on Saturday, May 20 at 2 p.m., with Rhode Island Reds coming to Dietz the following day at 5 p.m.
The remaining home schedule includes visits from New York Athletic Club (Saturday, June 3 at 5 p.m.), Boston City FC (Saturday, June 10 at 5 p.m.), Seacoast Mariners (Saturday, July 1 at 5 p.m.) and TSF Academy (Monday, July 3 at 6 p.m.)
After visiting New York Athletic Club in their second game of the season, Kingston will make stops at Hartford City (Saturday, May 27), Rhode Island Reds (Saturday, June 4), Brooklyn Italians (Saturday, June 17), Seacoast Mariners (Saturday, June 24) and Boston City (Saturday, July 8) during 2017.
Even before May there’s likely to be Stockade FC activity at Dietz, beginning with open tryouts on Saturday and Sunday, March 4-5. Local players interested in trying out for the club must register at www.stockadefc.com/tryouts. Dietz Stadium will be open to the public during these tryouts.