Game Preview: Tropics open tonight against tough San Diego side

by Brian Ackley

The Florida Tropcis SC couldn't have been scheduled against a much tougher opponent for its first-ever game in the Major Arena Soccer League when the San Diego Sockers come calling tonight at 7:35 in the Lakeland Center.

The Sockers won seven titles in nine years in the Major Indoor Soccer League between 1982-92, and four straight championships in the PASL – the forerunner to the the MASL – from 2009-13.

“Friday night is going to be a great opportunity. Obviously we play a great San Diego team who have a lot of experience and are always one of the perennial favorites in our league,” Tropics Head Coach Clay Roberts said. “We're going to come out and put our best foot forward for our fans, first and foremost. We're probably going to feel a lot of nerves early on, but we'll settle down and be able to play toe-to-toe with them.”

If the early season is any indication, the Sockers should be a threat to win it all again this year. San Diego is off to a 2-0 start, including an 8-4 win over the Dallas Sidekicks Both wins, however, were at home, and they so far have outscored their opponents 20-5. Goaltender Chris Toth leads the MASL with a 2.50 goals against average, and Kraig Chiles leads the offense with five goals and two assists.

The Tropics should be led by target forward Freddy Moojen, who is also serving as an assistant coach. Moojen, won the CONCACAF Futsal Championship “golden boot” award this summer while playing for Canada for most goals in the event, and he banged in 41 goals just two seasons ago with the Sidekicks.

The defense is projected to be anchored by goalkeeper Piotr Sliwa, and defender Anthony Arico, both who suited up last year for the St. Louis Ambush. Sliwa reduced his goals against average from over 10 two seasons ago in the MASL to under six last year in St. Louis.

Tickets are available online at, by calling 333-5353, or for purchase at the Lakeland Center box office prior to the 7:35 kickoff. The game will also be broadcast live online, with the stream available through the team's website.

After the opener, the Tropics hit the road for three straight starting next weekend in Baltimore, along with stops against divisional foes Harrisburg (Nov. 25) and Syracuse (Nov. 26), before heading back to the Lakeland Center for a return engagement with the Blast on Dec. 3.