Two teams found themselves as the class of the Northwest Division this season, with the split between division-winners and second-place coming down to goal differential.
Though level on points at the top of the division, the Portland Timbers U23 managed to seize the division crown with a very high +17 goal differential. With four players seizing four or more goals, including eight goals and two assists from Francesco Amorosino, the Timbers U23 powered their way offensively to the top of the Northwest.
Finishing even on points, but behind on goal differential, were the Calgary Foothills FC as they finished second this year. They met the Timbers U23 in the Western Conference Semifinals play-in match, but couldn’t overcome the division champions. Following behind those two were Sounders FC U23, Victoria Highlanders FC, Lane United FC, and TSS FC Rovers.
Here’s a look at the Northwest Division Season in Review.
Photo by Calgary Foothills FC
Record: 8-2-4, +5 GD
Northwest Division Finish: 2nd
Playoffs: Lost in Western Conference First Round
MVP: Kyle Jones - 6 goals
It was a strong season for the Calgary Foothills FC, as the Canadian club found themselves level on points with the Portland Timbers U23, but falling just short on goal differential to land in second place in the Northwest Division. After an initial loss in their third match of the season to TSS FC Rovers on May 19, the Foothills didn’t lose again until late in the season when they fell 4-0 to the eventual division champion Timbers U23 on July 8. Their impressive run included an eight-match unbeaten streak in the middle of the year, but the loss to the Timbers U23 proved costly as they’d wind up falling on goal differential. They made the Western Conference playoffs, but lost to the Timbers U23 once again in the semifinals play-in match. Though the offensive productivity was pretty well-spread, it was Kyle Jones who led the team with six tallies to his name. Also impressive were Ali Musse and Chris Rushworth, with four and three goals respectively. Defensively, goalkeeper Dylon Powley was the team’s iron man, playing every minute of the season with a hugely impressive 1.07 GAA and 51 saves.
Photo by Lane United FC
Record: 3-6-5, -3 GD
Northwest Division Finish: 5th
MVP: Nick Moon - 6 goals, 1 assist
While not the resulting record that Lane United FC would’ve hoped for, the team’s season was an up-and-down one in several ways. After starting the year at 2-1-2, Lane United went on an unfortunate six-match winless run that ended hopes of competing for a division crown in 2017. It was a tale of strange results, with most matches being decided by two, three, or four goals, and very few close contests. While the team did surrender three or more goals four times on the year, they won their three matches by a combined 14-1 margin, including a huge 7-1 win over the Victoria Highlanders FC on July 1, certainly the high point of the season. Leading the charge for most of the year was Nick Moon, who recorded six goals and an assist on 22 shots in 967 minutes of play. Closely behind Moon was Jordan Jones, who scored six goals of his own, with Ismael Fernandez recording another four to round out the top-scorers. In goal, Joaquin Miralles saw the majority of time, with Ben Willis picking up six appearances as well, combining for a GAA of 1.71 and 70 saves.
Photo by Portland Timbers U23
Record: 8-2-4, +17 GD
Northwest Division Finish: 1st
Playoffs: Lost in Western Conference Semifinals
MVP: Francesco Amorosino - 8 goals, 2 assists
The 2017 season panned out exactly as the Portland Timbers U23 would’ve hoped entering the year, ultimately emerging on top of the Northwest Division as champions. Even on record with the Calgary Foothills FC, a 4-0 win on July 8 over their closest challengers boosted them to the division crown on goal differential. After a slow 1-1-3 start to the season, the Timbers U23 got red hot, going 7-1-1 the rest of the way, including a give-match winning streak from June 18 to that July 8 win, their biggest margin of victory in the season. They managed to take down the Foothills FC once more in the Western Conference Semifinals play-in match, before falling to the FC Golden State Force in that round. With six players recording two or more goals, the offense was clicking for the Timbers U23, led by Francesco Amorosino’s eight goals and two assists while appearing in all 14 regular season matches. Most impressive, however, was the goalkeeping performance by primary starter Jordan Farr, who played 12 matches in net with a 0.83 GAA and 30 saves over the season. Add to that a five-goal performance from Timur Zhividze and four-goal seasons from William Spurr and Benji Michel, and the Timbers U23 found a recipe for success.
Photo by Sounders FC U23
Record: 6-7-1, +2 GD
Northwest Division Finish: 3rd
MVP: Adam Jones - 4 goals, 3 assists
Though not a title-winning year, Sounders FC U23 finished just outside of the two playoff spaces in the Northwest Division in 2017. With the Timbers U23 and Foothills FC running away with the top-two spots on 28 points each, Sounders FC U23 led the rest of the pack in third with 19 points on the year. The year was largely a mixed bag as the team’s record indicates, but a run of 1-4-1 from June 2 to June 25 is what ended the Sounders playoff hopes. Still the season had its positives, including a season-opening 1-0 win over the eventual division champion Timbers U23, and the team took two of three matches from both the Highlanders and TSS FC Rovers. Leading the charge offensively for the Sounders, both in goals with four and assists with three, was Adam Jones. Helping him out was a two goal, three assist year from Derek Johnson, with four others also contributing two goals and fourteen players scoring overall. The Sounders utilized four goalkeepers over the year, with Cameron Frost and Paul Christensen splitting most of the starts, with all four keepers combining for 43 saves and a 1.42 GAA.
Photo by TSS FC Rovers
Record: 3-8-3, -10 GD
Northwest Division Finish: 6th
MVP: Daniel Davidson - 5 goals, 1 assist
It was a tough season for TSS FC Rovers in 2017, as their 3-8-3 record and -10 goal differential left them trailing the other five teams in the Northwest Division and bringing up the rear. With a four-match winless streak to open the year, and then another five-match winless streak on the heels of that, the team struggled through most of the season, going 1-6-3 in their first ten matches. With that said, their 2-2-0 record in their final four matches represented a step in the right direction for TSS FC Rovers, who closed the year on a positive note in a 3-2 win over Sounders FC U23 on July 12. Led by Daniel Davidson and his five goals and one assist, the Rovers were decent offensively on the year. Six players contributed two or more goals, including three from Matteo Polisi, and James MacMillan contributed a goal along with four assists. Defensively is where the Rovers struggled most, surrendering a division-high 29 goals this year. Primary goalkeeper Andrew Hicks gave up a high GAA of 2.07, but his sky-high saves total of 78 belies the pressure he found himself under this season. Unfortunately for the Rovers, their offensive output was unable to match their defensive struggles and the team had a difficult year as a result.
Photo by Victoria Highlanders FC
Record: 5-8-1, -11 GD
Northwest Division Finish: 4th
MVP: Sho Goto - 5 goals, 3 assists
It was a middling sort of year for the Victoria Highlanders FC, as they finished in the middle of the pack in the Northwest Division with a 5-8-1 record, but a division-low -11 goal differential. Opening the year with a 4-1 win over Lane United FC on May 14 was a fantastic start, but the Highlanders unfortunately followed that up with a season-long four-match losing streak from May 26 to June 18. After breaking that rut, they split their remaining matches evenly, going 4-4-1 over their last nine, but it wasn’t enough to catch Sounders FC U23 or the top-two above them. The Highlanders did close the season by winning two of their last three, and took two out of three from both Lane United and TSS FC Rovers, leaving the team with some positives to take into the offseason. Another positive came in the form of Sho Goto, who knocked in five goals and assisted on three others, leading the team in both categories while playing the third-most minutes on the roster. Also of note were three-goal performances from Francesco Bartolillo and Patrick Nelson, with the latter also assisting twice. Defensively, the team struggled, with Simon Norgrove taking the majority of starts in goal and giving up a 2.17 GAA with 37 saves. Tyrone Venhola, with a 0.40 GAA and 14 saves, and Yuchiro Hayami, with a 3.58 GAA and 10 saves, split the remaining starts.