Tropics off to LA in search of second consecutive UPSL Spring national championship

by Brian Ackley

AUBURNDALE, Fla. – Survive and advance is often the mantra for the NCAA’s March Madness basketball championships.

But it fits perfectly for the Florida Tropics as well, as they will defend its UPSL Spring 2019 championships in Los Angeles this weekend, after having won five straight playoff games.

Although the Tropics will have to make the long trip west, so too will its semi-final foes New York Contour United. Kickoff for the national semi-final showdown will be at 8 p.m. (Pacific Daylight Time) Friday, August 6 at LA Harbor College Stadium.

The league’s championship game will be played Sunday, August 8 at the Los Angeles Galaxy’s Championship Stadium at Great Park, kicking off at 3 p.m. PST. The consolation match up that Sunday will start at 12 noon.. All three games will be broadcast live at elevensports.com.

For the Tropics, all five of their playoff wins  – including the most recent 3-1 decision over Kalonji Pro Premier in Augusta, Georgia on July 24 – have been nerve wracking affairs. Three of the wins have been by one goal, one came in overtime (against Kalonji) and one came in penalty kicks.

"We're battle tested and have answered every challenge, so we expect that to be the case again this weekend," Head Coach J.P. Reyes said. "Our goal from day one was to defend our national championship, and we've worked hard to get to this point. We're focused, confident and ready to bring a  title trophy back to Polk County."

New York, meanwhile, has been much more dominant in its five playoff wins, outscoring opponents 14-2 along the way, after posting a 9-0-2 regular season in which they scored 38 goals and allowed just 8.

In contrast, the Tropics were 8-2-2 in the regular season, but did outscore opponents by a margin of 42-13, and come into the playoffs as the fourth highest goals scoring team in the UPSL. Forward Will Eyang has emerged as an individual star, with 20 goals on the season, tops in the UPSL.

The team has some of its Major Arena Soccer League stars on the roster, including captain Lucas Montelares who got the game winner two weeks ago in overtime on a penalty kick, and scored both game winners in the 2019 national semi-finals and finals, and MASL 2019-20 Defender of the Year Drew Ruggles. 

Florida is actually the UPSL"s defending national Spring champions, having gone 18-0-0 en route to that title in 2019. There was no UPSL spring season last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UPSL was founded in 2011 and currently includes more than 300 teams nationally. The UPSL is the fastest growing Pro Development League in the USA, with 400-plus teams targeted for 2021/22 Season. Each UPSL team is individually owned and operated, and is responsible for maintaining UPSL minimum standards at all tier levels.

UPSL teams are all eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup Qualifying Rounds through the leagues affiliation with the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) and the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA).

Additional information regarding the UPSL can be found by following the league on social media via Facebook (www.facebook.com/upslsoccer), Instagram (@upslsoccer) and Twitter (@upslsoccer).

In addition to its outdoor side, the Tropics will start their sixth season in the Major Arena Soccer League late this fall at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland, with a 2021-2022 schedule expected to be released in early fall.