One word to describe Florida Tropics free agent frenzy? How about 'wow'!

by Brian Ackley

If you had to pick just one word to describe the Florida Tropics offseason so far, “wow” would be a pretty good place to start.

Or, if you wanted to use two words, “all in” would be a good choice too.

However you might describe it, there's no denying the new look Florida Tropics almost overnight transformed into dynamic side that on paper looks as potentially strong as any team in the MASL.

Consider what transpired during the league's recently concluded free agency period:

>> Re-signed fan favorites Victor Parreiras, Anthony Arico and Antonio Manfut. Parreiras is the club's all time active leading scorer.

>> Signed the number five and number nine goal scorers in the league last year in Gordy Gurson (who was fourth overall in points in 2018-19 and a 2017-18 All MASL team selection) and Ricardo Caravalho.

>> Signed two key members of the champion Milwaukee Wave – defender Drew Ruggles and midfielder Ricardinho.

>> Signed goalkeeper Rainer Hauss,  a 2017-18 All MASL Rookie Team pick with the third best goals against average in the league. With Orlando last season, his save percentage of well over .700 was fifth best in the MASL.

>> Signed Victor Baez, a finalist for MASL Defender of the Year in 2015-16

>> Signed Stephen DeRoux, the team's first ever player who previously played in Major League Soccer (D.C. United). 

>> Signed Joey Tavernese, second team All MASL in 2017-18.

>> Signed up and coming 22-year old talent Stefan Mijatovic.

When the Tropics brain trust – CEO Dr. Panos Iakovidis, COO Chris Economides and Coach Clay Roberts – sat down at the end of a disappointing 2018-19 season, it was clear a roster upgrade would be necessary.

“It's been a process, that's kind of how I'm looking at it,” Roberts noted. “On the heels of last season, it was a difficult time for everybody. Once we started down that injury track,  we were just kicking trying to get to the surface to get air on a week to week basis. That happens in sports, it's important to remember that. Whenever there's a tough time, it's time to refocus and replan.”

That new plan included an aggressive free agency approach that landed Florida some of the top talent the MASL had to offer.

“It was pretty evident once we laid it out there was some changes that needed to be made, by me, by them, and collectively as a group together that's worthy of our fans,” Roberts added. “There was a lot of time spent drafting what our desire would be, and is it the right player? We just didn't want good players, we wanted players who were committed to winning, who are warriors on the floor, and great representatives of the Tropics off the floor and in the community. There were a lot of hours, a lot of white board conversations, and to be honest, that was quite enjoyable.”

The Florida Tropics will start their fourth season in the Major Arena Soccer League late this fall. The leagu's opening night will be November 22, and a complete scheduled will be released later this summer. For more information, including season tickets, call 863-240-0101, or visit