Tropics, MASL moving ahead with scheduling games for 2020-21 season

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. –  The Florida Tropics SC Presented by Bond Clinic and the Major Arena Soccer League, following a recent vote by the MASL Board of Directors, will see the MASL 2020-2021 regular season start as early as December 31st with a final regular season date of April 18th. Playoff format will be announced at a later date. 

The announcement came from league officials and Florida Tropics SC Chief Executive Officer Dr. Panos Iakovidis.

“We are more committed than ever to bring central Florida its first ever indoor soccer  championship,” Dr. Iakovidis said. “We have already begun working with our partners at the RP Funding Center to secure great dates for our fans, who we anticipate will be able to attend games safely. And we’re working diligently with our tremendous community and corporate partners that will once again allow us to bring our fans the high-energy, high-scoring, action-packed thrills of professional indoor soccer.”

The Tropics are the current MASL Eastern Conference champions after posting an  18-3 record for the 2019-20 season which came to an early end in mid March because of the Coronavirus outbreak. Highlights included the largest crowd in franchise history of 4,318 on Feb,. 22 for an 8-6 victory over Sonora and the second largest crowd ever on Jan. 25 of 4,089 in a win over the St. Louis Ambush.

The Tropics have already added two key free agents this summer including defender Chad Vandegriffe from the defending league champion Milwaukee Wave (who have announced they will sit out the season because of a current surge in COVID cases in Wisconsin), and Kiel Williams, the second-leading scorer last year for the Kansas City Comets.

Among the stars expected to return for the Tropics fifth indoor season include MASL Defender of the Year Drew Ruggles, Second Team ALL MASL picks forward Victor Parreiras and goaltender Hugo Silva, and third-team All MASL forward Ricardo Carvalho. 

All are currently playing to the Tropics United Premier Soccer League outdoor team, along with teammates Antonio Manfut and Lucas Montelares for Coach Lucas Teixeira. Parreiras, Montelares and Teixeira have all been with the Tropics since making their MASL debut in November, 2016.

The Tropics claimed their first ever organization title by going 18-0-0 to win the UPSL’s 2019 Spring national championship. The UPSL did not conduct a spring season this year because of the ongoing pandemic.

“We will continue to make sure our roster is as strong as it can be for the coming season,” Iakovidis said. “We are always looking for ways to bring in the best talent possible. Our fans and sponsors deserve our best effort to field the most entertaining and competitive team we can.”

Each MASL club is presently working on its own schedule. To qualify for playoffs and be considered regular season play, a team must play a minimum of 12 games and maximum of 24 games. Local and state regulations will be a determining factor in start dates, capacity, and number of games played, according to league officials. 

Teams that are allowed arena capacity, and have dates will have the ability to schedule and fulfill games as allowed. Standings will be based on winning percentage since teams will potentially play an unbalanced number of games. Many other professional leagues are following this same model and further details will be released as they are finalized. 

In addition to work on the upcoming season, the MASL Board also voted in its Executive Committee for the coming year: President - Lane Smith (Tacoma Stars), Vice President - Kevin Healey (Harrisburg Heat), Secretary - Shelly Clark (St Louis Ambush), Treasurer - Phil Salvagio (San Diego Sockers), At-Large - Simon Bozas (Dallas Sidekicks). 

The league also looks forward to upcoming announcements with the December 5th MASL All Star Game, other new competitions, and regional exhibitions. In the coming days and weeks teams will be allowed to announce approved home game dates on a case by case basis.