Rival SeaWolves will open regular season and home 2019-20 schedule for Tropics

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. – Some of the most historic and successful teams in the history of indoor soccer – including the two most recent Major Arena Soccer League champions – will visit Lakeland this winter as part of the Florida Tropics 24-game regular season schedule announced today by the league.

Once again, the entire home slate will be held on only weekend dates, starting with the home opener on Saturday, Dec. 14 against the team's fiercest rival, the Orlando SeaWolves. 

Orlando will visit the RP Funding Center two additional times, on Jan. 12 and Jan. 19, and will host the Tropics on Friday, Nov. 22 in the season opener for both teams at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee. That will mark the first of a three-game road trip to start the 2019-20 season, the Tropics fourth in the MASL.

In fact, five of Florida's first 10 games are against the SeaWolves, as is the final road game of the season on March 17. The Tropics will end their regular season at home on Sunday, March 22 against the Califino (Turlock) Express.

The MASL defending champion Milwaukee Wave will visit the RP Funding Center on Saturday, Dec. 28, and the Baltimore Blast, who won the league crown in each of the prior three seasons, will be in town on Saturday, Dec. 21.

Also on the home schedule is a visit by the San Diego Sockers, who have 13 professional indoor soccer championships to their credit, and who served as the opponent in the Tropics first-ever game on Nov. 11, 2016 when Florida rallied from a 4-1 fourth-quarter deficit to stun the indoor soccer world with a 6-5 victory.

The Sockers, Blast and Wave franchises all date back the 1980s, and have a combined 30 world championships. The Wave is the longest continuously operated professional soccer franchise in the United States, having first taken to the pitch in 1984.

In all, there are seven Saturday night contests and five Sunday matinee games. Saturday start times will be 5:05 p.m. while Sunday kickoffs will be at 3:05 p.m. 

Following is the complete 2019-20 regular season schedule:

Friday, Nov. 22            at Orlando SeaWolves        7:35 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 5        at Orlando SeaWolves        7:35 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 7         at Milwaukee Wave             7:07 p.m. (CST

Saturday, Dec. 14      vs. Orlando SeaWolves      5:05 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 21      vs. Baltimore Blast             5:05 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 28      vs. Milwaukee Wave          5:05 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 3              at Rochester Lancers        7:05 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 4         at Baltimore Blast              7:05 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 12         vs. Orlando SeaWolves    3:05 p.m.

Sunday, Jan. 19         vs. Orlando SeaWolves    3:05 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 25      vs. St. Louis Ambush        5:05 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 31           at Dallas Sidekicks              7:35 p.m. (CST)

Saturday, Feb. 1        at Mesquite Outlaws           7:05 p.m. (CST)

Saturday, Feb. 8        vs. San Diego Sockers      5:05 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 15     vs. Rochester Lancers       5:05 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 16        at Milwaukee Wave             5:07 p.m. (CST)

Saturday, Feb. 22     vs. Soles de Sonora           5:05 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 27     at Tacoma Stars                 7:35 p.m. (PST)

Sunday, March 1       at Tacoma Stars                5:05 p.m. (PST)

Friday, March 6         at Rochester Lancers        7:05 p.m. 

Sunday, March 8       vs. St. Louis Ambush        3:05 p.m.

Sunday, March 15     vs. Kansas City Comets   3:05 p.m.

Thursday, March 19   at Orlando SeaWolves     7:35 p.m.

Sunday, March 22      vs. Califino Express         3:05 p.m.

Several teams will be making their first ever appearance in Lakeland, including the Express, Rochester Lancers and Soles de Sonora, who lost the MASL championship to Baltimore in 2015-16 and again in 2016-17.  

The Tropics will be part of the 10-team Eastern eastern conference, which will battle for one of four playoff berths. Along with Florida, the SeaWolves, Blast and Wave, the East will include Utica City FC, Harrisburg Heat, Rochester Lancers, St. Louis Ambush, Kansas City Comets and Canada Metrostars. Utica, Harrisburg and Mississauga will not play in Lakeland this season.

In all, the Tropics will meet Orlando six times, with three games each against the defending-champion Wave and Lancers, and two each against Baltimore, Tacoma and St. Louis. There are only three weekends in which Florida will play back-to-back games, two on the road, and a split weekend Feb. 15 and 16 with a home game against Rochester and a road trip the following day in Milwaukee. They will play at least one game every weekend from the start of the season, Nov. 22 to the season-ender on March 22, save for Thanksgiving weekend when the Tropics are idle. 

Under the playoff format adopted recently by team owners, the top finishing team in each will have their choice of who to match up against among the other three playoff qualifiers in their respective conference. All playoff series this years will feature one home and one away game for each team, with a 15-minute mini-game to be played at the conclusion of game two as a tiebreaker.

Season tickets are now on sale. Visit www.fltropics.com for information, or call 863-240-0101.