Game Preview: Two of MASL's hottest teams collide at Lakeland Center Friday

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND – The Florida Tropics SC will host the Kansas City Comets in the fourth game of a seven-game homestand Friday night at the Lakeland Center, a game which will feature two of the hottest teams in the Major Arena Soccer League. The Tropics are winners of three straight, and four of their last five going back to their most impressive triumph of the season, 8-7, on Dec. 30 in Kansas City. Meanwhile, the Comets arrive in Lakeland on a five-game winning streak.

The game is also expected to be a debut of recently signed all-star goaltender Marcel Feenstra. The Tropics No. 1 goalie, Piotr Sliwa, is suspended for one game by league rules on an accumulation of cards. Feenstra has played nine years in the league, all with the Milwaukee Wave, helping them win back to back championships in 2011 and 2012. He was MVP of the 2011 championship finals series, and has 60 career wins in 89 starts. His career goals against average is 4.61, which would rank him fourth among the league's top goaltenders this year.

Florida comes in at 6-7, in second place in the MASL's eastern division, while Kansas City, 10-4, is in a dogfight in the central division with Cedar Rapids, Chicago and Milwaukee for one of two playoff spots. The top two finishing teams in each division earn spots to the league's post-season. The Tropics  – a half game behind Harrisburg for the second playoff spot in the eastern division – did not play last weekend, while Kansas City comes in having defeated Syracuse at home 6-5 and two days later, winning 7-6 at Chicago.

Florida's leading scorer is Freddy Moojen, who also serves as team captain and assistant coach, with 10 goals and nine assists. Ricardo Diegues, who is tied for the team lead in goals with 10, remains sidelined with a hamstring injury. Victor Parreiras, whose bicycle kick goal against St. Louis has gone viral with 200,000 views on the Fox Soccer Facebook page, is third on the team in goals with eight.

Kansas City is led by Leo Gibson, with 18 goals and 18 assists and John Sosa with 5 goals and 14 assists. This is the third and final regular season meeting between the teams, with each winning on the other's turf. Kansas City hung a 6-4 loss on Florida on Dec. 17.

Tickets are available online at www.fltropics.com, or by calling 863-333-5353. The homestand closes out with critical games Feb. 4 against Harrisburg and Feb. 11 and 12 against Syracuse. All games are broadcast free of charge, live, at www.masl.tv.