Weekend preview: Tropics back on road to meet two divisional foes

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND – The Florida Tropics SC will introduce themselves to two new divisional rivals as they travel to meet the Harrisburg Heat Friday night, Nov. 25 and then on to Syracuse for a Saturday night showdown with the Silver Knights.

Eleven of the Tropics 20 games this season will be against Eastern division foes. Four each will be against Harrisburg (1-2) and Syracuse (1-0), with the last six games of the team's schedule against either the Heat or Silver Knights. It's possible those games could have a big impact on the divisional playoff race, since only the top two teams in the four-team division will qualify for the Major Arena Soccer League playoffs.

Florida, with a 1-1 record so far this season, plays the defending league champion Blast three times to round out the divisional slate. Those three games will be concluded on Dec. 10 in Baltimore. The Tropics opened that trilogy with a 7-1 loss last weekend in Baltimore (2-1). The teams will rematch Dec. 3 at the Lakeland Center.

Florida coach Clay Roberts will be looking for more offense this weekend. Other than a five goal outburst in the fourth quarter which carried the Tropics to a 6-5 season-opening win over the San Diego Sockers, the local side has just two goals in the other seven quarters of play so far this season. After Florida out-shot San Diego 23-16, the Blast took 28 shots in their win, while the Tropics managed just 10. In both games, the Tropics trailed 2-1 after three quarters of play.

Victor Rojas and Ricardo Diegues lead the team with two goals each in the first two games. Rojas is the team leader in shots with 11.

Friday night's kickoff is at 7:35 p.m. at the State Farm Show Arena, while Saturday night's start is at 7:05 from the Oncenter War Memorial Arena. Both games, and all Tropics games home and away, can be watched live on line on the MASL's YouTube channel which can be accessed through the team's website at www.fltropics.com.

The Tropics will return home to the Lakeland Center on Saturday, Dec. 3 for a 7:05 start against the defending MASL champion Baltimore Blast. Tickets are available through the website, or by calling 863-333-5353.