MASL Defender of Year Chad Vandegriffe staying with Tropics on new three-year deal

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. –  The reigning Major Arena Soccer League Defender of the Year has re-signed with the Florida Tropics.

Chad Vandegriffe, who led the MASL in blocks last season with 54, has inked a new three- year contract with the club. Per league and team guidelines, no additional information about the deal will be released.

Vandegriffe, a native of St. Louis, will be starting his ninth year in the MASL, after debuting with the St. Louis Ambush in 2013-14. He played three years for his hometown team, and then spent four seasons with the Milwaukee Wave prior to joining the Tropics as a free agent prior to the 2020-21 season when the Tropics won the MASL regular season title. 

“Obviously Chad was pivotal for us to get re-signed. One, the consistency of his play is pretty unmatched. I can’t look back at any game last year and think that he was not just very good for us,” Coach Clay Roberts said. “And two, he’s so consistent, not only in how he plays, but his leadership and how he fuels the other guys. To get him re-signed for multiple years is huge for our organization.”

In 153 regular season and playoff games, the 6-1, 180-pound defender has 32 goals and 37 assists, becoming more of an offensive threat since joining the Tropics. He scored five goals last season when Florida advanced the the MASL championships where they fell in two games to the San Diego Sockers, tying for second most in goals in a season in his career. (Career MASL stats  HERE. )

But it is his defensive prowess where he has made his mark, often drawing the assignment marking opponent’s most dangerous scorers like Frank Tayou, Ian Bennett and Vini Dantas. His 54 blocked shots led the league by a wide margin last season, and was easily a personal best for Vandegriffe, who now has 197 career blocks. Seven times last season alone he had at least four blocked shots in a single game. 

“I am looking forward to this season. We are headed in the right direction to bring home the first ever championship to our deserving fans all over Florida,” Vandegriffe noted. “I thank Dr. Panos Iakovidis and Coach Clay Roberts for this opportunity to continue to represent the Tropics.”

He is the second Florida defender over the past three seasons to win the award. Drew Ruggles, who was a teammate of Vandegriffe with the Milwaukee Wave where both won a championship in 2018-19, won the honor in 2019-20.

The Tropics, who have won three consecutive Eastern division or conference championships, will open their seventh season of MASL play at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland in late fall. For more information, visit