Baltimore Blast visit Sunday as Tropics look for seventh consecutive win

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. – The Eastern Division champion Florida Tropics will look to win their seventh straight Major Arena Soccer League game Sunday when the Baltimore Blast visit the RP Funding Center in Lakeland for a 3:05 p.m. kickoff.

The Tropics (16-1-1) are assured one of the top three seeds in the MASL post-season by virtue of already having clinched the title in the East. They will host their first ever home playoff game the weekend of April 8-10 against an opponent still to be determined.

Florida earlier in the season had an eight-game win streak, and the team record for consecutive wins is nine. This will be the third meeting of the year between the long-time rivals, with the Tropics taking wins of 6-4 and 7-6 in games in Baltimore earlier in the season. 

Baltimore (10-8) comes into the weekend as the current No. 4 playoff seed, the first of five wild-card entries based on points totals, and will welcome a familiar face back to its lineup. High scoring forward Vini Dantas, who played the previous six seasons for the Blast before signing with Tacoma as a free agent prior to the 2020-21 season was traded back to Baltimore earlier in the week.  In 124 career MASL games, he has 163 goals, including two last weekend when Tacoma played in Florida, with the Tropics taking a 10-4 win.

Baltimore also added a former Blast and Tropics player in defender Stephen Deroux  earlier this week. He has appeared in 110 games scoring 21 goals and adding 21 assists. He played 10 games for D.C. United in Major League Soccer as well in 2006 and 2007. He first played for the blast in the 2011-12 season and appeared in 24 games with Florida in 2019-20 and 2020-21. 

The Tropics come in having scored the most goals in the league so far this year, with 155, eight more than the San Diego Sockers who have played one more game than Florida. The Tropics have also given up the second fewest goals in the MASL in 2021-22 with 84.

Victor Parreiras continues to be one of the league’s star performers, and currently sits third overall in points in the MASL with 42 ( 23 goals and 19 assists).  He and teammate Zach Reget are tied for fifth overall in goals with 23 each.  Ricardio Diegues, who since being acquired from Utica in a Jan. 31 trades, has 10 goals and six assists in his six games with the Tropics, leading the MASL in points-per-game average with 2.7.

Lucas Roque leads the Blast attack with 24 goals and 13 assists. 

This will be the first of two late regular-season games against the Blast, who will also visit  on April 3, the last game of the year before the start of the playoffs. Fans can get free tickets to either Blast game.

The “Tropics Blitz” allows for free general admission tickets  as a way of providing a great evening of family entertainment for parents and kids who have had their activities curtailed because of the ongoing pandemic.

Vehicles with two or more persons will pay $20 to park, and then be able to take their parking receipt to the RP Funding Center box office for the same number of free tickets to that day’s game as occupants in the vehicle. Single occupant vehicles will pay just $10 for parking.

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