Florida Tropics will be part of newly-expanded Eastern Conference for 2019-20 MASL season

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. –  When the revamped and talent-infused Florida Tropics start their fourth season in the Major Arena Soccer League late this fall, they will do so as part of a newly configured Eastern Conference, featuring the MASL champion Milwaukee Wave and Baltimore Blast, who won the three prior league titles.

The 17-team MASL will feature a nine-team Eastern Conference and eight-team Western Conference for the 2019-20 season.

Joining the Tropics in the East in addition to Baltimore and Milwaukee will be the Orlando SeaWolves, Utica City FC, Mississauga MetroStars, St. Louis Ambush, Kansas City Comets and Harrisburg Heat.

For the first two years, the Tropics played in the Eastern Division of the Eastern Conference alongside Baltimore, Harrisburg and Syracuse, which became Utica City last season. Last year, the Tropics competed in the MASL's South Central Division with Orlando, St. Louis, Kansas City and Milwaukee.

Florida will play a 24-game regular season schedule, with 12 games a the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. A complete schedule will be released in late summer. 

“We are excited to be back up against teams like Baltimore and Utica, which is one of the reasons we were so active in the free agent market to sign some of the top available talent in the league,” Coach Clay Roberts said. “We are very confident that we can compete with anyone in the division this season with the addition of such stars as Gordy Gurson, Drew Ruggles, Ricardino Caravalho, and Joey Tavernese.”

Those four were rated in the top 14 of available free agents by the independent website www.turfandboards.com. Beyond that quartet of stars, the Tropics signed goalkeeper Hainer Hauss, former MASL Defender of the Year finalist Victor Baez, and former Major League Soccer defender Steve DeRoux in addition to re-signing fan favorites Victor Parreiras, Anthony Arico and Antonion Manfut.

Teams have already voted to expand the playoff schedule this season, with every round now being a two-game series --- home and away – with a 15 minute mini game at the conclusion of the second game if the series is tied. Previously, only the first playoff round featured that format, with the remainder of the post-season a one-and-done format.

Making up the Western Conference are the San Diego Sockers, Tacoma Stars, Ontario Fury, Dallas Sidekicks, Turlock Express, Mesquite Outlaws and two teams in Mexico, the Monterrey Flash and Soles de Sonora. The El Paso Coyotes are finalizing plans to move to Austin, Texas with the intent to play in the second division of arena soccer this season, MASL2 (M2). Joining them in M2 from last year’s MASL roster will be the RGV Barracudas. 

The criteria for post-season qualification will be announced in the coming weeks. 

Season tickets are now on sale, featuring reserved 200 level sideline seats for just $99 for the entire 2019-20 campaign. For more information, visit www.fltropics.com, or call 863-240-0101.