Tropics ride big second quarter to roll past Ambush, 4-1, in MASL season opener

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. –  The Florida Tropics picked up right where they left off last spring, defeating the St. Louis Ambush 4-1 Saturday at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland, kicking off the 2021 Major Arena Soccer League Season for both clubs. 

All the goal scoring came in the first half, and in fact, all the Tropics scoring came in the second quarter.

Tony Walls opened the scoring for St. Louis midway through the first, but Florida roared back in the second starting on a goal by Bruno Henrique, playing in his first MASL game.  That was followed by markers by Drew Ruggles, Lucas Montelares and Guilherme to make it 4-1. Tropics forward Ricardo Carvalho assisted on all four of the Florida goals, falling one short of a team records for assists in a game.

“For a first game, it was a good, solid effort, especially defensively,” Head Coach Clay Roberts said. “We were off just a little bit on offense, but that will come as we play more games. And, even with all the goal scorers we have, we preach defense first, and tonight was a good example of that. Definitely something to build on.”

The Tropics have never lost a season opener, now pushing that winning streak to 5-0. Three of the wins, including Saturday's, have come at home and two on the road.  The one goal allowed ties a team record for fewest goals allowed in a home game. The Tropics led the MASL in going 18-3 last year in giving up the fewest goals on the season, 86.

The two teams will turn right around and be back on the pitch Sunday,  in a 3:05 kickoff. The Tropics will stay home to host the Kansas City Comets on Jan. 8 and 10 while St. Louis will stay on the road next weekend for a Jan. 9 date against the Dallas Sidekicks. 

At present, 11 teams have committed to playing in the 2021 season, although that could still change depending on local restrictions related to the pandemic. Six teams are playing in January, with the remaining teams to join the mix in February. Teams will play between 12 and 24 games, with playoff seeding determined by overall winning percentage. 

The league is announcing schedules only a month at a time because of the pandemic restrictions, but the final games of the regular season will be played by April 18.

Single game tickets are available through the team’s Facebook page (click on the event link), or by calling 863-240-0101. Tickets will also be available gameday at the RP Funding Center box office. The team and arena have devised a socially distanced seating plan that can accommodate approximately 1,500 fans per game. Facial coverings will be required for those in attendance.