Diegues, Hauss, Freitas all cleared to rejoin Tropics for 2022-23 season

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Three former members of the Florida Tropics – two of which were key members of the team’s run to the Major Arena Soccer League finals last spring – have been cleared by league officials to rejoin the Tropics for the remainder of the 2022-23 season.

Forward Ricardo Diegues and goalkeeper Rainer Hauss both signed new free agent contracts that were announced this past offseason. A policy change regarding visa status in October made them and other players in the MASL ineligible. That policy, however, was amended last week, making those two and Thiago Freitas, who had previously signed a Tropics contract,  available for reinstatement.

Diegues was an original member of the Major Arena Soccer League Tropics when they debuted in 2016-17, and for a long time even after signing with Utica after the 2018-19 season was Florida’s all-time leading scorer before being eclipsed in goals and total points by his good friend and former linemate Victor Parreiras.

In three seasons with the Tropics, Diegues scored 69 goals and added 29 assists in just 57 games. His best season came in 2017-18 when he recorded 28 goals and 16 assists, both single season career highs. In 12 games with Utica in 2018-19, he scored 19 goals.

After rejoining Florida midway through 2021-22, he had 12 goals and 8 assists in 11 games, and then played a key role in the postseason, with five goals and six assists in seven games.

Hauss was a playoff standout after joining Florida midway through last year. In the playoffs, he had a spectacular 3.81goals against average and  .822 saves percentage.  In 34 career games with Cedar Rapids and the Tropics, he has a GAA of 5.84 and a saves percentage of .718.

Frietas signed with Florida several seasons ago, but has not been cleared to play up until now. A playmaking midfielder, Freitas has appeared in 681regular season games, with 38 goals and 57 assists in three seasons with Harrisburg and one with Orlando. in 2018-19, the last season in which he played. 

All three have been playing this season for the Major Arena Soccer League 2 Iowa Demon Hawks, and as such, will be eligible to suit up for them as well as the schedule may allow per the MASL and M2 player agreement. Diegues is the leading goal scorer in M2 with 13 goals in six games. Freitas leads the league in assists with 13, and Diegues is first in overall points with 23.  

Florida will have two key games coming up against the Milwaukee Wave, who sit in second place right behind the East Division leading Tropics. The first comes at home Sunday, Jan. 15 at 3:05 p.m., with the return match Friday, Jan. 20, in Milwaukee.

Tickets for all home games are available starting at just $7 per game by calling the arena box office at 863-834-8111. Although tickets are also available online at www.rpfundingcenter.com, service fees are significantly higher through Ticketmaster as opposed to calling the box office directly. Tickets are also available on game day at the box office.