Game Preview: Tropics hope to settle a score with defending league champion Blast

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND – The Florida Tropics SC will hope to settle a score Saturday night when the defending Major Arena Soccer League champion Baltimore Blast visit the Lakeland Center for a 7:05 p.m. kickoff.

The first year Tropics are a very respectable 2-2, but their worst loss of the season came Nov. 18 in Baltimore, when the Blast hung a 7-1 defeat on the local side in Florida's first-ever road game. It was virtually a “pick 'em” game heading into the fourth quarter, with the Blast holding just a 2-1 lead. However, four goals in under three minutes early in the final frame put the game out of reach. Florida managed just 10 shots on a goal for the night, a season low.

Baltimore is 2-1 on the season, as just a half game separate the Blast from the rest of the eastern division (Harrisburg 2-2, Syracuse 1-1), and have a goal differential of plus 10. Florida has a goal differential of minus 7, largely because of the loss to the Blast.

Florida's offense seems to be starting to get in gear, with two of its expected contributors – Freddy Moojen and Victor Parreiras – heating up last weekend. Moojen had two goals and two assists as the Tropics lost in Harrisburg (7-4), but followed that up a night later with the team's first road win in Syracuse (7-6). Parreiras scored twice in the win over the Silver Knights, his first two goals of the season.

Moojen, team captain and player/assistant coach, has now played in 144 MASL games in his career and has 138 goals. Parreiras has scored at better than a goal a game pace in his shorter MASL career, with 33 goals in just 26 games.

Defensively, netminder Piotr Sliwa is coming off his best effort of the season, as Syracuse reigned 23 shots on goal last weekend, the second most the Tropics have given up this year. Baltimore had 28 shots in its win Nov. 18 at Royal Farms Arena.

Saturday night's game will feature a special “Donald Trump Lookalike” contest. Participants will be admitted free, and the Tropics crowd along with a special “celebrity judge” will pick a winner at halftime, who will get two season tickets for the remaining 2016-17 campaign.

Tickets for the game are available at, or by calling 863-333-5353. The game will also be broadcast live on MASL.TV, via YouTube. The stream is available through the team's website as well.