Tropics leading scorers set to play with sister franchise Lakeland Tropics in USL PDL this summer

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND – Two of the most popular and talented players from the Major Arena Soccer League's Florida Tropics – Ricardo Diegues and Victor Parreiras – have signed to play with the USL Premier Development League Lakeland Tropics this season, pending league approval, Head Coach Eoghan Conlon has announced.

The pair should play big roles in the team's offense. Diegues was tied for the arena team's lead in goals scored with 17, while Parreiras was third on the team in goals with 14. Diegues was second on the team overall in points with 26, while Parreiras was third (18).

The expansion team will kick off its regular season May 11 in Miami, and will return for its home opener at historic Bryant Stadium on Saturday, May 20. Kickoff for that game against the PDL's defending southeastern division champion Villages SC will be at 7:35 p.m.

“They are both exactly the kind of players we want to put out on the pitch,” Conlon said. “They are highly skilled, and they should be exciting to watch.”

Each had one of the most spectacular goals of the year in the MASL. Diegues' bicycle kick goal with 31 seconds to go in the Tropics first-ever game against the San Diego Sockers lifted  Florida to an improbabl8 6-5 win. Parreiras had his own bicycle kick goal against St. Louis with just two-tenths of a second left in the first quarter of that win. His goal went viral on the Fox Soccer facebook page with more than 200,000 views.

Diegues also set the Florida Tropics team record for most goals in a single game with four against Syracuse on Feb. 26. He also had a hat-trick Feb. 12 in the Tropics final home game of the season at the Lakeland Center. He tied for the team lead in goals despite missing a month of the season with a hamstring injury. Parreiras was one of five members of the team to play in all 20 matches over the winter, and four times he had two-goal games.

Tickets for all seven home games, including six Saturday night starts under the lights, are available online at (or by calling 863-204-0101). More information on the team and season, including the complete 14-game schedule can be found at the team's website as well.

The team will also hold an open tryout for area players on Saturday, April 22, from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information or to register, call the Tropics office at 863-240-0101.

The proven developmental leader in North American soccer's evolving tiered structure, the Premier Development League features 72 franchises in four conferences throughout the United States and Canada, including 16 clubs that are owned and operated by a professional club, or that hold a partnership with a professional club. The PDL has proven to be an important stepping-stone for top professionals now playing throughout the world, with nearly 70 percent of all MLS selections since 2010 having PDL experience. The PDL provides elite and collegiate players the opportunity to taste a higher level of competition while maintaining their eligibility. In addition to league play, PDL teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various exhibitions.