Tropics add scorers from top Brazilian futsal league

by Brian Ackley

The Florida Tropics continue to bolster their offense for the 2017-18 Major Arena Soccer League season with the signing of two stars of the top futsal league in Brazil.

Guilherme dos Santos and Raphael Schlemper have been added to a Florida roster – pending final league approval – that will include the return of the team's three leading scorers from a season ago.

Guilherme and Schlemper both suited up for Cascavel in the National Futsal League (LNF), the premier indoor league in Brazil. Futsal, although played indoors, is played on a basketball court with no dasher boards, unlike arena soccer. Because it is played in close confines and features five position players a side plus a goaltender, it emphasizes important arena soccer traits like quick passing, dribbling and precise striking skills.

Guilherme, who goes by his first name, was the team's leading scorer in 2012, and in the three seasons from 2014-2016. He has played professionally for 12 years, and has played in five finals with two titles with Cascavel since joining them in 2012. In all he has scored 112 goals in that time. Schlemper was the team's leading scorer in the 2016 first division Parana State Championships with 12 goals.

“The LNF is the highest level of futsal in Brazil, and for the Tropics to be able to get two great scorers from that league is very exciting for us,” said head coach Clay Roberts. “Together with some of the top talent we have returning, we think we can build a dynamic offense that will excite our fans and help us become a threat every time we have the ball.”

The Tropics were next to last in the MASL last year in goals scored, with 99, ahead of only St. Louis (83), and improving the offensive depth has been an oft stated goal during the off season. The club has also signed Mauricio Salles recently, who has 195 goals in 160 career games in the MASL.The Tropics have a bevy of Brazilian talent to greet Guilherme and Schlemper, including Freddy Moojen, Ricardo Diegues and Victor Parreiras, the top three goal-getters last season, along with Lucas Montelares, Lucas Teixeira and others.

Florida will open their season in November, with the home opener set for Saturday, Nov. 18 at 7:05 p.m. at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. A full 22-game schedule will be released in the coming weeks. For information, including $55 season tickets, contact the Tropics at 863-240-0101, or go online at www.fltropics.com.