Midland-Odessa FC to play in NPSL Lone Star Conference, Barnes back as head coach

The National Premier Soccer League has announced that Midland-Odessa FC will play the 2017 season in the league’s newly formed Lone Star Conference. Six clubs - five from Texas and one from Louisiana – will make up the conference. 
Midland-Odessa FC will play a 12-match schedule as they will play home and road contests against conference foes Dutch Lions (Houston), Fort Worth Vaqueros, Houston Regals SCA, Tyler FC and Shreveport Rafters FC. Each team will also play two additional matches within the conference to round out the 2017 campaign. 
The former South Central Conference expanded each of the three past seasons and would have featured 12 teams across six states. Therefore, the former conference was spilt in half to form the Lone Star Conference and the Heartland Conference. 
“This newly formed conference gives us the ability to continue to play quality opponents, but in more of a geographical area for us,” Midland/Odessa FC General Manager, Soccer Operations Jeff VonHolle said. “We are looking forward to learning more about the NPSL and each of the other five teams in the brand new Lone Star Conference.” 
The top four teams out of the six-team Lone Star Conference will compete for the conference title. The No. 1 seed will host the No. 4 seed while the No. 2 seed will host the No. 3 seed on July 12. The two winners face off in the Lone Star Conference Final on July 15, with the highest remaining seed hosting.
The Lone Star Conference champion will advance to face the Heartland Conference Champion in the regional semifinals. 
“The growth of soccer in the United States is great to see,” VonHolle said. “There are new teams being added all over the place, and it will benefit us to have some geographical rivalries.  
“I think the new league and conference makeup will be terrific for our existing fans and our new fans alike to follow as we begin our quest for a Lone Star Conference championship.” 
Midland-Odessa FC’s schedule will be released in the upcoming weeks. 
Leading the way for Midland-Odessa FC for the 2017 slate will be a familiar face as Matt Barnes will return for his fourth season as Midland-Odessa FC’s head coach. 
Barnes has compiled a 24-15-10 record as Midland-Odessa FC’s head coach and led the team to the Premier Development League playoffs in both 2015 and 2016. Last season, Barnes and Midland-Odessa FC had its most successful season on the pitch by going 10-4-4 and reaching the PDL National Semifinals.
“Coming off the great success of the 2016 season in which we reached the PDL National Semifinals, we couldn’t be happier to have Matt return for the 2017 NPSL season,” VonHolle said. “The goals for our club haven’t changed. We think we can continue to compete for a conference championship as well as a national championship. We believe Matt is the coach that can help get us there.” 
Barnes is currently the head coach at Division II St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Prior to arriving at St. Mary’s University, Barnes was the head coach at three different schools: San Francisco State (2014-15), Lubbock Christian University (2013) and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Arizona (2011-12). In six seasons as a collegiate head coach, Barnes has a record of 54-39-16. 

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