Tropics road to UPSL national championship starts with first playoff game this weekend in Naples
AUBURNDALE, Fla. -- The Florida Tropics road to a second UPSL national championship will begin Saturday afternoon in Naples.
The Tropics will meet Florida Premier FC in a 3:45 p.m. neutral site game at the Paradise Coast Sports Complex in Naples in the opening round of the Spring 2021 United Premier Soccer League playoffs.
The two teams split a pair of games in the regular season, including a Tropics 3-1 loss at Florida Premier in the very first week of the season. Florida took a 2-1 win over FPFC at home later in the year.
"We're a much different team than we were that first week, but I know Florida Premier has improved as well," Coach J.P. Reyes said. "We finished the season strong, and finally have the roster pieces in place we want heading into the playoffs."
Tropics leading scorer Will Eyang is expected to be back in the lineup Saturday. He is tied for fifth in the entire UPSL with 14 goals scored this season. He had goals in both games against FPFC this season.
The Florida part of the playoffs would appear to be up for grabs. Of the 28 teams in the state, only one finished the season withoiut a loss, OFC Barca. However, they had two draws this spring, finishing 8-0-2 in the Florida Central group. The Tropics finished the year 8-2-2, while FPFC was 7-4-1. The St. Pete Aztecs took the Florida West regular season title finishing 9-1-2. Both draws came on rally against the Tropics, including two St. Pete goals in the game's final 10 minutes in a 2-2 tie at Lake Myrtle Sports Complex in the regular season.
Nationally, the UPSL has adopted a new 32-team playoff structure to determine the UPSL Premier Division champion. The newly-designed bracket was rolled out during the UPSL's 2020 Fall Season Playoffs and is now a permanent feature of the UPSL Premier Division national playoffs. The winner of the Florida West division playoffs will meet the winners of the Florida Central division the weekend of July 11 and 10, with games every weekend thereafter until down to a final four.
United Premier Soccer League Commissioner Yan Skwara said, "This new playoff structure is a reflection of the UPSL's continued growth across the United States, and the growth of our conferences and divisions. The bracket is set up to determine our champion each season and will remain a constant that our clubs can look to each season as the path necessary to win the UPSL national championship."
The teams that qualify for the UPSL national playoffs will be determined by the results of the regular season across all of the UPSL divisions. The UPSL playoffs structure will regionalize early stages of the playoffs leading up to the UPSL National Finals, when matchups will be determined.
The winners from the East, Southeast, Central and West Regions advance to the UPSL National Finals, scheduled for Aug. 6-8.
Florida is actually the UPSL"s defending national Spring championships, having gone 18-0-0 en route to that title in 2019. There was no UPSL spring season last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For more information on Saturday's game, visit www.fltropics.com or the team's social media platforms, including details on how to watch the contest's live stream.