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Amateur notes: 56ers bringing UPFC's Portou over for 2014 season

01/15/2014, 10:15pm CST
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Last July, Kiri Portou scored the lone goal for University of Portsmouth FC in a 3-1 loss to the Madison 56ers in a friendly at Breese Stevens Field.

56ers general manager Cristian Brei thought Portou was the English side's best player on the night, causing the home team trouble throughout. And Brei would like to see Portou play at the same level – or even higher – this summer.

That's because Portou, a striker-midfielder from Enfield, England, has committed to play for the 56ers in 2014. The move follows talks that started last summer between Brei and UPFC coach Bruce Suraci about the clubs working together.

The teams also have finalized plans for another friendly this summer in Madison, scheduled for June 27 at Breese Stevens.

  • The National Premier Soccer League's Midwest Region Central Conference will include six teams this season, one more than each of the past two years. The 56ers, Eau Claire Aris FC, Minnesota Twin Stars and defending champion Quad City Eagles will be joined by newcomers FC Bordo St. Louis and the Minnesota United Reserves. As previously reported, Bavarian SC has taken a one-year leave of absence with plans to return in 2015.
  • Central teams will play 10 league matches in 2014, five home and five away, with the champion to face the Great Lakes Conference winner for a berth in the national semifinals – the Great Lakes team will play host to that match. In 2012 and '13, Central teams played a 12-game schedule, facing each team three times. Brei said the 2014 schedule should be finalized and announced by the end of the month.
  • In addition to the match against UPFC, Brei is looking to schedule one or two more home games for the 56ers, including at least one against a professional team.
  • At least one additional game could come from a proposed Central Cup competition, an idea discussed by team representatives at last Saturday's conference annual general meeting in Madison. No decision has been made about the concept.
  • The 56ers recently got some good news from the City of Madison Parks Department, as it was confirmed that they will be able to play the 2014 season at Breese Stevens Field. A new artificial turf surface will be installed at the historic 87-year-old stadium later this year, but that work isn't scheduled to begin until early August.
  • Over in the Great Lakes Conference, FC Sparta Michigan was purchased by a new owner and renamed Michigan Stars FC, while PA West announced that its new team will be called the Fort Pitt FC Regiment. The conference stands at eight teams.
  • The Women's Premier Soccer League holds its AGM on Saturday in Philadelphia, with details on the 2014 season expected to be finalized. The Midwest Division has added at least three teams in the Twin Stars, Cincy Saints and Detroit's Motor City FC after eight teams played in the division last year, including the 56ers.
  • The 56ers' WPSL side is hoping to play its home matches in 2014 at Goodman Pitch, the new FieldTurf stadium that opened last fall at Reddan Soccer Park in Verona.

COMING SOON: After the Central Conference AGM, NPSL commissioner Michael Hitchcock sat down for a lengthy interview with Wisconsin Soccer Central about the league's present and future. Look for an article in the coming weeks.

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