Tropics begin playoff push in earnest Saturday at Lakeland Center

by Brian Ackley

The Florida Tropics SC will begin their push for the Major Arena Soccer League playoffs in earnest Saturday night at the Lakeland Center when they host divisional foe Harrisburg, one of a pair of teams the Tropics are battling for a post-season berth.

Two teams in the four-team eastern division will make the playoffs. Baltimore leads the group at 9-5 but Florida (6-8), Syracuse (6-7) and Harrisburg (6-8) are all within a half game of each other behind the Blast. Remarkably, all six of Florida's remaining games are against the Heat and the Silver Knights, starting with this weekend's matchup.

Harrisburg suffered back-to-back crushing losses at home last weekend, both in overtime, to Syracuse and then Chicago. The Silver Knights tied the game with 21 seconds to go, and the Mustangs with 65 seconds to play, before both scored in the first minute of overtime to defeat the Heat. Florida, meanwhile, squandered a 5-3 first half lead and fell to the Kansas City Comets, 7-6, the first loss in four starts in the current seven-game homestand which will conclude with a double-header weekend Feb. 11 and 12 when Syracuse comes to the Lakeland Center.

The Heat recently signed indoor legend Carlos “Chile” Farias for the stretch run. He made his debut last weekend, and had three assists. In his indoor career which spans more than two decades, the 41-year old has 330 goals and 388 assists in 434 games. Ricardo Carvalho leads the team in goals with 13 and in points with 19.

The Tropics are expecting Ricardo Diegues to return to the lineup. He was the team's leading scorer when he injured a hamstring Dec. 31 in Cedar Rapids. He is still tied for the team lead in goals with 10, along with captain and assistant coach Freddy Moojen who leads the team in points with 22. Victor Parreiras also has 10 goals for the Tropics so far this year. Goaltender Piotr Sliwa is also expected to return, after serving a one game suspension for card accumulations.

After the visits by Harrisburg and Syracuse to the Lakeland Center the next two weekends, Florida will be off the following weekend before hitting the road for three games in three days, starting Feb. 24 in Harrisburg, followed by games Feb. 25 and Feb. 26 in Syracuse. Tickets for the remaining three regular season home games are available at, or by calling 863-333-5353. There will be a special youth clinic before the Feb. 4 game, with the price including a game ticket. Call the front office for more information.

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