State title, trip to UPSL national playoffs on line Saturday as Tropics SC host Boca Raton FC
AUBURNDALE – The Tropics SC will look to keep its perfect record in tact, and at the same time wrap up the UPSL Florida state championship Saturday night at Lake Myrtle Sports Complex when they host Boca Raton FC.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. and tickets are available online at www.fltropics.com or by calling 863-240-0101. The game will also be streamed live at www.mjcujoo.tv.
One of Boca's players is Chad Johnson, also known as “Ocho Cinco”, the former National Football League star receiver who signed to play with the South Florida team before the season began.
Johnson, who of course wears number 85 on his soccer jersey, has been more than a publicity stunt. In fact, he scored both goals in Boca's big late-season win over the Palm Beach Breakers.
Team officials, however, were non-committal earlier this week when asked whether or not Johnson will suit up Saturday.
“We don't want to focus the entire attention of our team on one player. Our players really want to be seen this way. Chad Johnson is one of our players and we will travel to Lakeland with all out players available for this day. We will have 22 players ready to play,” said team president Douglas Heizer.
Of course, the Tropics feature plenty of their own firepower, with a number of stars of their professional Major Arena Soccer League Florida Tropics suiting up, including the team's two all-time leading scorers in Victor Parreiras and Ricardo Diegues, goalkeeper Hugo Silva who has 10 clean sheets this spring, and defender Lucas Montelares.
Coach Lucas Teixeira, a defender for the MASL Tropics, also has star power on the bench, with reserves including Guilherme, the indoor team's leading scorer last year before getting hurt, and Ricardo Caravalho, ninth in goals scored in the entire MASL last season.
He is one of nine free agents who recently signed with the Tropics who are expected to significantly bolster the arena team's talent level when it starts its fourth season at the RP Funding Center in late November.
Auburndale's Pascal Millien, who scored 114 goals in three seasons for the Bloodhounds and was part of their 2005 state soccer championship season, has excelled for the Tropics SC in the playoffs, hitting two posts in last Saturday's game.
“We know this will be our toughest test of the season,” Teixeira said. “On paper, they are talented and deep. But so are we, and we are confident we'll get the result we are looking for Saturday night.”
The Tropics come in at 14-0-0, having outscored its opponents 43-5. Boca Raton has been almost as impressive, with a record of 12-1-2, and a goal differential of plus 14. Diegues, who has scored in each of the last two playoff games in stoppage time, leads the Tropics with a dozen goals, despite playing in only about half the team's games so far.
The Tropics advanced with a 3-0 win over the Macca Ballers FC last Saturday on goals by Parreiras, Diegues and Andrew Clare. Boca Raton slipped by Hialeah City FC in six rounds of penalty kicks after playing to a scoreless draw in regulation and overtime.
Saturday's winner will advance to the UPSL national quarterfinals against Maryland-based World Class Premier Elite soccer in Savannah, Ga. On either July 19, 20 or 21. The UPSL Final Four will be in Dallas-Fort Worth the last weekend of July.