#Gateway Division

Previewing the 2024 UPSL Spring Season: Gateway Conference Teams Analysis and Projections

Today we are taking a look at the teams in the Gateway Conference for the 2024 UPSL spring season, this new conference includes some new teams and some familiar faces. Some of these teams we can talk a lot about, and others, we have absolutely no idea what to expect. Besides some social media posts, we will have to wait to see how they perform on the field. Let’s give a breakdown of each team and our projections for this season.

St. Louis City Academy

Starting off with the biggest contender in the conference, St. Louis City Academy, the third team in the St. Louis City lineup. STL City Academy had a dream of a Fall 2023 UPSL season. They reached the 2023 Fall finals coming out of the KY-TN conference and on their way to the finals, beating the likes of Tennessee Tempo, Arlington SC, Florida Premier, and Columbus Crew Academy. However, they fell in the final to a very strong and “professional” Chiriaco FC team from LA. Now this spring, after promoting quite a few of their better players to STL City 2 that play in the MLS Next league, we expect the UPSL team to reload with more young talent. This program has shown that it can develop players at a young age, and with players making it all the way from the UPSL team to getting homegrown MLS contracts, they plan to continue making waves in the UPSL, having their young talent playing at the highest level possible. This team will be one to watch, not just in the Conference but also in the National Tournament. We expect them to make it back to the National Tournament and fight their way to the finals again. Top of the conference for STL City Academy this season is our projection, and they will go 8-1-1.

St. Louis Fusion FC

Next up, we have St. Louis Fusion FC. This team has been in the UPSL for a few seasons now but playing most of their games in a conference that includes teams from Kansas and Iowa. Then this past spring, they were moved to the KY-TN Conference, and they failed to make an impact with a disappointing season where they went 3-1-6, failing to make the conference playoffs. They have announced some players on their socials for this spring, and they have some talent on this year’s roster. With players from local colleges, ex-indoor pros, and even some USL 2 players, this seems to be a good mix of players who, if they can put it together, could be very dangerous. We see them making it to the playoffs this season in the UPSL. If they can survive the beginning of the season when the NCAA players are not available due to the NCAA rules, where current student-athletes cannot play for another team until their spring season is over. In all we see them going 4-1-5 this season.

The Stags aka Springfield FC

The team we are going to highlight next is Springfield FC, also known as the Stags. They are another team that is familiar to the UPSL after coming out of the always tough Midwest Central Conference with some very talented teams out of the Chicago region. They ended their Spring 2023 season with a record of 4-1-5, making the conference playoffs but having an early exit, which saw them have some unfinished business coming into the 2024 season. Now outside of that, we do not know much about their team this spring. They have not posted any signings, but looking at the starting 11 post from their only preseason friendly they have posted online, it looks like there are some college and some ex-college players that give some solid experience to this squad. We are looking forward to seeing this team take the field this season. They should put on a good show and will look to prove they are a solid program in the UPSL. Outside of the tough Chicago Conference, they are a team to be taken seriously. We think they will go 4-2-4.

Midwest Hooligans

Now, we take a look at the Midwest Hooligans out of Evansville, Indiana. This team is going into their 3rd season in the UPSL, and they have not had the best first two seasons in the UPSL. Last Spring, they only put up a record of 3-0-7. They just could not find the results, and one of those wins was a forfeit. So going into the 2024 season, it looks like they have changed their head coach this season and have announced a very large squad with quite a few new faces. The players they did announce seemed like a very young team with a lot of local college players. Many teams seem to have a reliance on college players, and that can either be a good or a bad thing with the NCAA rules that are in place. Some college players added with some experience can add the needed youth to any team, but too many college players might leave the team with some holes to fill till their NCAA spring season is over. With the Hooligans, we are looking to see if they can progress from the last two seasons and make the conference playoffs. This preseason, we saw the Hooligans play a few friendlies vs other UPSL teams from the KY-TN division. In those games, they did have some good results like a 2-0 win over Southern Indiana FC and a 4-1 win vs. PCDA. If those wins are what we can expect from the Hooligans, we think they could be very good this spring. But with other results like a 2-1 loss to PCDA and a 2-0 loss to Kentucky Wesleyan College (who Tennessee Tempo tied 0-0), we are unsure what Hooligans team will show up each week. We expect the Midwest Hooligans to go 5-3-2.

The Guardians

Here we look at the new UPSL teams for the 2024 Spring season. We have Southern Indiana Guardians FC, they are hailing from Floyds Knob, Indiana (near Louisville, KY). Now this team is not to be confused with Southern Indiana FC who is playing in the KY-TN division this season. We have confirmed multiple times that this is a different team with its own organization and any similarities are just a coincidence. Now for the SIGFC Spring 2024 UPSL team, they have announced they will play in both the UPSL and NPSL. Now that seems like a tall feat for any team but especially a team in their first season. The NPSL is a summer league that calls itself a semi-pro league. I am not quite sure exactly where it falls in the pyramid of US soccer, which is already confusing on its own. The SIGFC team they have announced so far looks to be a very young team with even a few high school age players on the team. We think that without some experience on the roster, it might be tough to compete at the level of the UPSL. Maybe some of these younger players are very talented like the STL City Academy kids, but it is hard to say until we start to watch them play this season. We do expect SIGFC to struggle to put it together this season and having a record of 2-0-8.

314 Soccer Club

The last team in the Conference we will see this spring in the 2024 Gateway Conference is 314 SC. Now this is the hardest team to talk about because they have not much of a social media presence and the sources we have talked to do not know this team at all. Now there is an Instagram that is called 314 Training and they seem to work with players from all around the STL area and even might have worked with STL City Academy (they even promoted the national championship game STL City Academy was in). The logo on the Instagram is the exact same as the logo for 314 SC so we can assume that they are ran by the same organization, but as for what to expect with this team we just cannot be sure. We did see them share an Instagram story where they are playing in a friendly vs a local Sunday league side called Thunder FC. There have been no player announcements or anything so a lot of unknowns for this team but we expect them to have a few players they have trained with their program and maybe an ex-STL City Academy player they changed. We see them going 2-3-5 this spring season.

Here are our projected standings for the 2024 Gateway Conference UPSL spring season.

STL City A1081125
314 SC102359

The top 4 make the conference playoffs, and we think it will be a tight race through the middle of the table, with teams trading wins. We foresee STL City Academy winning the Conference quite easily, even with them giving up points late in the season just to give some other players playing time. We think that teams 2, 3, and 4 could go just about any which way, but we do think that those will be the top 4 at the end of the season. 314 SC and SIGFC, we just think they’ll struggle in their first season of the UPSL. With so many unknowns, we just cannot rate them just quite yet. Check back in with us week to week to react and recap each game of the season (as long as they live stream it).