The "Rematch" -- Tropics will host defending MASL champion Milwaukee Wave Saturday

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND,  Fla. – They don't come much more intriguing than this when the Major Arena Soccer League Florida Tropics host the defending champion Milwaukee Wave this Saturday, Dec. 28, at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. 

The Tropics are riding a team-best five-game win streak to open the 2019-20 season, with the signature triumph coming Dec. 7 in Milwaukee. It was the Wave's home opener – which included a banner raising and ring ceremony commemorating their 2018-19 crown – but Florida spoiled the party with a 5-4 overtime win.

It marked the first time the Tropics had ever beaten the Wave, and it also was the team's first-ever overtime win, when Guilherme finished off a perfect feed from Ricardino Sobreira 2:42 into the extra period.

Both Ricardino, and defender Drew Ruggles who is tied for third in the league in shots blocked this season with seven, played for Milwaukee last season but were signed by the Tropics as free agents over the summer, part of a massive roster overhaul which saw no less than 12 free agents brought in by Florida.

The Tropics are led offensively by Ricardo Carvalho, one of those free agents who was ninth in the league in goal scoring last season with the Harrisburg Heat. Carvalho has six goals and six assists, currently tied for fourth in overall scoring in the league so far this year. 

Brett Petricek is expected to get his third straight start in goal, signed two days before Florida's 6-3 win over Orlando on Dec. 14. In two games, he has given up just five goals, with goalkeeper Hugo Silva on the shelf still with a groin injury and free agent Rainer Hauss still unable to play because until he receives final visa approval.

The high-flying Milwaukee offense is led by the all star duo of Ian Bennett and Max Ferdinand. Ferdinand leads the team in points with 12 (four goals, eight assists), while Bennett is the leading goal getter with eight. Rafa Diaz is expected to start in goal, filling in after Josh Lemos suffered a season-ending knee injury in pre-season. Diaz has been strong, with a goals against average of just 2.51 goals a game and a save percentage of .845.

Tickets for the 5:05 p.m. rematch are available by calling 863-640-0101, or by visiting The game will be broadcast live on WTTA-TV, Great 38 in Tampa, and online at