Lucio Gonzaga back for another season with MASL Florida Tropics

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. -- A key member of the Florida Tropics turnaround two years ago is back with the Major Arena Soccer League team for the 2021-22 season.

Lucio Gonzaga, who appeared in 14 games for the Tropics in their Eastern Conference championship season, had 10 goals and eight assists for the club, helping the team to an 18-3 record before the Covid 19 pandemic ended the season early. 

“Lucio is a veteran of the game that for us, two seasons ago, he did all the silent work. His on field position and his passing are his biggest strengths,” Coach Clay Roberts said. “He’s a player that can calm the game down, or he can speed it up, and he’s obviously still a threat himself.”

Roberts said Gonzaga will likely be used more on defense this year in part because of a new rules change that only allows one pass back to the goaltender when a team has possession of the ball.

“Our passing out of the back is going to have to be crisper and everyone will have to have a greater understanding of building out of the back, so because of the change, and his understanding of the game, he’s going to be a huge asset,” Roberts added. 

Before joining the Tropics in 2019, the native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, played for Utica City FC, where he had 11 goals and 13 assists in 20 starts in the 2017-18 campaign. He started his indoor career by helping the 2007-08 Baltimore Blast win a MISL championship. In 219 career arena games, has scored 175 goals and added 82 assists.

“Lucio is the perfect veteran presence with tremendous championship level experience. He is excellent on the ball and can really help control the flow of a game with his skills,” said Head Coach Clay Roberts. “We look forward to his arrival and integrating his talents into our line up.”

In addition to the Blast and Utica City, he has dressed for the New Jersey Ironmen, Harrisburg Heat and Ontario Fury. His best season came with the Ironmen when he scored 23 goals in 19 games. He also eclipsed the 20 goal mark in 2012-13 with Baltimore, netting 21 goals in 24 games, winning his second title ring with the Blast that season as well. 

The Tropics – presented by Bond Clinic – will open their sixth season in the Major Arena Soccer League on Dec. 4 when they travel to meet the Baltimore Blast. The home opener is set for Saturday, Dec. 18 when they host the Ontario Fury at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland, part of a historic nine-game homestand. Kickoff for the sixth home opener in team history is set for 5:05 p.m. 

Season tickets for all 12 Florida home games which guarantee the best seats in the house are now on sale by calling 863-240-0101. Each family season ticket account includes a parking pass this season.

In addition, the “Tropics Blitz” will provide free general admission tickets to many of the 200 level seats at the RP Funding Center for the entire 2021-22 season thanks to the team’s sponsor as a thank-you for five years of support, and as a way of providing a great evening of family entertainment for parents and kids who have had their activities curtailed because of the ongoing pandemic. Vehicles with two or more persons will pay $20 to park, and then be able to take their parking receipt to the RP Funding Center box office for the same number of free tickets to that day’s game as occupants in the vehicle. Single occupant vehicles will pay just $10 for parking. 

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