'New look' Florida Tropics will make 2019-20 debut against Orlando Friday night

by Brian Ackley

ORLANDO – The Florida Tropics will kick off their fourth season in the Major Arena Soccer League Friday night when they take on the Orlando SeaWolves in a 7:35 kickoff at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.

Fans are excited to see how the “new look” Tropics will fare this year, after injuries devastated the roster last season and was responsible in large part for a disappointing 6-18 record.

In the off-season, Florida signed 11 free agents – including two of the top 10 goal scorers in the MASL – and traded for the current league Rookie-of-the-Year Zach Reget.

One other huge difference this year is the team for the fist time ever trained exclusively on an indoor field in Orlando. Previous training camps had seen the club spend most of its practice time on on outside field since there is currently no indoor pitch in the greater Lakeland area.

“Training camp was excellent. Getting all the new faces acclimated to each other and to the Tropics way was a big challenge with so many new faces, but the guys all rose to the occasion, worked hard, and understand what we are trying to accomplish here,” Coach Clay Roberts said. 

One of the top free agents in the league, Gordy Gurson, was one of the 11 signees. He played for Orlando last year, and in six games against the Tropics, scored 13 goals. The now Tropics forward scored 34 goals and added 24 assists, making him the fourth highest point getter in the MASL last season.

Also on board, and dressing for Friday's game, is Ricardo Carvalho, who had 30 goals for the Harrisburg Heat last year, and Joey Tavernese, who scored 20 goals for Utica City FC last year.  In all, eight players slated for Friday's line up are new to the team.

A core of key returning players will dress as well, including the Tropics all-time active leading points getter, Victory Parreiras (44 goals, 31 assists), along with Antonio Manfut, Matt Clare, Lucas Teixeira, Lucas Montelares and Hugo Silva.

Two other returnees, Anthony Arico and Guilherme, will not dress, recovering from injuries which occurred in training recently. Free agents Rainer Hauss and Efrain “Wilo” Martinez are currently sidelined by a visa issue.

The two teams split six games last season, with each winning twice at home and once on the road. The teams finished the 2018-19 season at Silver Spurs Arena last April with the Tropics falling, 6-4. 

The game will be broadcast live at www.masl.tv. The Tropics will stay on the road for their next two games – Dec. 5 in Orlando and Dec. 7 on the road against the defending MASL champion Milwaukee Wave – before returning to Lakeland for the home opener Dec. 14 against the SeaWolves.

The Tropics will play 24 games during the regular season which runs through the end of March. For more information, including ticket plans still available for the entire 2019-20 season, visit www.fltropics.com or call 863-240-0101.