Although the Spokane Shadow have a title in hand, the USISL Premier League Northwest Division champions face two crucial road games this weekend.
The Shadow, 11-2 in division soccer games and 12-3 overall, play the Puget Sound Hammers in Bellevue tonight and are at Bellingham to play the Orcas Saturday night.
The games are important for what they may mean in August.
The division title gave Spokane the top seed for the Northwest tournament the last weekend of July. The winner of that will play the survivor of the Southwest tournament one week later in a one-game playoff for a spot in the national tournament. The team with the better record will be host.
The San Gabriel Valley Highlanders lead the Southwest at 9-3 but have two games left with the defending national champion Central Coast Roadrunners, who are 7-4.
Sometime next week, the Shadow should announce the Northwest tournament will be at Albi Stadium July 25-26.
The last three spots in the tournament are up for grabs. Currently, Yakima (5-7) is second with 15 points, followed by Cascade (5-7) at 13, Bellingham (4-8) at 12 and Puget Sound (4-6) with 10. Teams earn three points for a win, unless it is in a shootout, which is worth one point.
Spokane’s 33 points leads all 30 Premier League teams. The Shadow is the first team to clinch a title. Next should be the Mid-Michigan Bucks, who are 9-1 in league and 12-1 overall with a 12-game winning streak.
Teams play each other four times for 16 league games. Spokane has three league games remaining, and Puget Sound has five.
The Shadow clinched the Northwest title last Saturday with a 5-1 victory over Yakima. The Reds had pulled out a 3-2 decision over the Shadow on Friday.
Craig Waibel, who had three goals and an assist last weekend, and Josh Fouts, who was in goal for the clincher at Albi on Saturday, earned Premier League “Team of the Week” honors.
Dave Berto added a goal and a couple of assists to move into seventh in the scoring race. Berto has 22 points from eight goals and six assists. The leader, Lester Felician of Jackson, has 15 assists and 37 points.
The Shadow will play an exhibition game with the A-League Vancouver 86ers on July 5 at Albi. The last league game is July 12 against Puget Sound at Albi. The Shadow closes out its regular season with a pair of non-league games in California, July 18 in San Francisco and July 19 in Chico. The Seals and Rooks are in the Pro League.
, DataTimes MEMO: On deck Northwest Division champs visit Puget Sound, Bellingham.
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