MASL free agency kicks off in earnest on May 1 and for the first time fans will be able to follow along. Will it be a gold rush or will most players re-up with their current teams? Is the MASL putting itself in a situation that will drive up salaries to unsustainable levels? Will there be a major competitive shift in the balance of power? We will all find out by the time the “live period” ends on May 15.
While some teams have most of their roster under contract through multi-year deals, Turlock has no players signed. Sonora, Cedar Rapids, Syracuse, and Dallas each have only one or two players signed, respectively.
St. Louis (1-19 in 2016/17) has pledged to be active in the market, and El Paso (0-20) needs obvious upgrades. In the past, San Diego and Ontario have been aggressive in acquiring players through free agency and trades.
The league also has the Barracudas organization returning and relocating from Brownsville to Hidalgo, Texas. Two other teams could be joining the league before the May 1 deadline.
As each player below signs we will update their status. With apologies to the late great Casey Kasem here is the Turf and Boards Top 40 list of MASL free agents.
1. Ian Bennett – M (Milwaukee Wave) Re-signed with Milwaukee 5/12/17 The Wave sniper finished second in goals (53) and points (62) and just completed his eighth season with the Wave. The Canadian’s numbers have steadily increased throughout his career, but he will be 34 in August. He will never be in higher demand, but has a good thing going with the Wave and his on-field collaborator Max Ferdinand. “I think when you have so much chemistry with a teammate why would I want to change that?” Bennett said. “The only thing I’m about now is winning and winning a championship. I have two rings and I want the third one so bad!”
2. Max Ferdinand – F (Milwaukee Wave) Re-signed with Milwaukee 5/5/17 Ferdinand went bonkers in his second season in Milwaukee finding a soulmate on the turf in Ian Bennett. Max, who will be 31 when the season starts, led the MASL with 30 assists and was seventh with 48 points.
3. Franck Tayou – F (Soles de Sonora) King Tayou has indicated he might want to give outdoor soccer a full-time try, but he will find plenty of takers in the MASL, where he will have a chance to once again team up with his brother, Uzi. Tayou is the two-time reigning MVP and set a league record with 57 goals last year.
4. William Vanzela – GK (Baltimore Blast) Re-signed with Baltimore 4/25/17 It is unlikely the Blast will let their five-year starter and two-time Goalkeeper of the Year go anywhere, but the man who has led the league in GAA each of the last four years would be a welcome addition to almost any team.
5. John Sosa – D (Kansas City Comets) Sosa was the top scoring defender in the league this year and has been named to the All-MASL First Team twice in the last three years. He is one of the reasons the Comets have excelled consistently defensively despite having three different starting goalkeepers the last three seasons.
6. Leo Gibson – F (Kansas City Comets) Gibson, who just completed his seventh season with the Comets, set the MASL point mark in 2014/15 but has seen a big drop off since then (93 points to 44 to 37) and has missed games multiple times due to concussion symptoms. Still, he finished eighth in the league in points per game last year and at 34 can still be an impact player.
7. Matt Clare – F (San Diego Sockers) Re-signed with San Diego 5/2/17 Clare scored four less goals in his second season with the Sockers, but dished out 13 more assists, picking up slack for the departed Nick Perera. He was San Diego’s second leading point-getter, but with so much of their nucleus already signed the Sockers could opt to find a replacement in the market.
8. Damien Garcia – D (Soles de Sonora) Signed with Monterrey 6/16/17 Garcia has appeared in the Newman Cup finals three of the last four seasons. He is currently playing in the summer LMFR with JM CasaBella, who are owned by former Flash President Gerardo Guerra Lozano. Garcia played for Lozano with the Rio Grande Valley Flash in 2012/13.
9. Stephen Paterson – GK (Kansas City Comets) Paterson was the league’s Rookie of the Year and got to apprentice under Danny Waltman and Boris Pardo. The Comets have been able to withstand the departures of Waltman and Pardo, but they may want to lock down Paterson.
10. Diego Reynoso – GK (Soles de Sonora) Signed with Monterrey 6/10/17 Reynoso, like Garcia, has appeared in the Newman Cup finals the last three seasons. He has had the tough assignment of playing at high-scoring Centro de Usos Multiples in Hermosillo the last two years, but don’t let his inflated GAA fool you; his 46-7 career regular season record is no fluke.
11. Cameron Brown – F (Dallas Sidekicks) Brown set the all-time Sidekicks record by scoring at least one goal in 26 consecutive games, one of the few bright spots for the 7-13 Dallas team. Then his season ended abruptly when he tore his ACL in the middle of a 21-2 embarrassing blowout loss in Hermosillo on February 16. Brown, who also tore an ACL in 2010, has come back before, and expects to be ready for the start of the upcoming season.
12. Kenardo Forbes – M (Syracuse Silver Knights) Re-signed with Syracuse 7/27/17 Forbes has been a member of the Silver Knights all six years of their existence and is coming off a career year in which he scored 21 goals and 21 assists. He will turn 29 in May so his marketability will probably never be higher than it is right now.
13. Joey Tavernese – F (Syracuse Silver Knights) Re-signed with Syracuse 10/6/17 Tavernese put up a career-high 26 goals for the second time in three years and led Syracuse in that category. The 27-year old could look to explore other opportunities this offseason.
14. Jonatan Santos – D (Cedar Rapids Rampage) Signed with Milwaukee 5/19/17 Santos had an outstanding season in his first year in Cedar Rapids after battling through injuries the prior few years. He was a standout performer on both ends of the field and helped the Rampage improve from 5-15 to 12-8. He will be 33 when the season begins, which is an attractive age for a team that wants to add a veteran presence.
15. Tony Donatelli – F (Baltimore Blast) Re-signed with Baltimore 8/31/17 Donatelli scored a career high 42 points this season and helped the Blast to another title. He brings leadership and a calm demeanor to the table and has come up big in the clutch time and time again for the Blast the last five seasons.
16. Jamie Lovegrove – F (Dallas Sidekicks) Lovegrove finally returned to the Sidekicks after missing almost two full seasons due to visa complications. He struggled at times, but still scored 21 goals in 17 games and may benefit from a potential coaching change in Dallas or a new system somewhere else.
17. Enrique Canez – F (Soles de Sonora) Re-signed with Sonora 8/29/17 The gangly local-boy-made-good had a breakout year in his second season with the hometown Soles scoring 32 goals in 20 games. Listed at 6’1″, but a mere 154 lbs. Canez benefits from Sonora’s up-tempo offensive style.
18. Hiram Ruiz – M (Soles de Sonora) Signed with San Diego 5/20/17 “El Pollo” is also a local find. He began his indoor career with the Las Vegas Legends after he was discovered in an exhibition game when the Soles played in Las Vegas as a prelude to them joining the MASL. Ruiz played two seasons with the Legends before returning home to Hermosillo last season.
19. Adriano Dos Santos – D (Baltimore Blast) Re-signed with Baltimore 8/31/17 Dos Santos has floated under the radar the last few years, but became the primary defender on Baltimore’s league-leading defense after the departure of Onua Obasi and the temporary retirement of Pat Healey. Dos Santos, who will be 30 in June has played all seven indoor seasons with the Blast.
20. Daniel Lopez – M (Soles de Sonora) Re-signed with Sonora 8/15/17 When Lopez broke his leg during the 2016 Western Conference finals, he was having a huge playoff with 13 points in five games. He came back to have a very strong 34 points in 15 games this year, but struggled in this year’s playoffs.
21. Lucas Roque – F (Baltimore Blast) Re-signed with Baltimore 8/31/17 Roque is another clutch playoff performer for Baltimore, but battled through injuries in this year’s playoffs. He took some personal time away from the team and played in just 12 regular season games, but should come back next year healthy and focused.
22. Joshio Sandoval – D (Cedar Rapids Rampage) Re-signed with Cedar Rapids 5/1/17 Sandoval is not a guy who will put a lot of points on the board, but he is a defender’s defender. As a four year veteran who will be only 28 when the season begins Sandoval can help a team that is close to winning it all as much as he can be a building block for a rebuilding team.
23. Gustavo Rosales – M (Soles de Sonora) Rosales is a slippery veteran who, like Garcia and Reynoso, has appeared in the Newman Cup finals three straight years. At 36 he still possesses a lot of speed and ball skill.
24. Miguel Vaca – F (Chicago Mustangs) Signed with Monterrey 7/14/17 Vaca was mysteriously released by the Mustangs prior to the end of his fifth season with the team. He will be 36 in October, but he is still one of the best dribblers in the league and would be an exciting addition for any team.
25. Jonathan Greenfield – D (Cedar Rapids Rampage) Re-signed with Cedar Rapids 9/12/17 Greenfield was another cog in the Rampage’s improvement last year. He is a solid defender who can push the ball up the floor and control the flow of the game. At 35 he still has a lot to offer a team.
26. Cody Ellis – D (Dallas Sidekicks) Ellis is one of the stars of the Sidekicks. After three light scoring seasons, he blossomed into a point-per-game defender the last two seasons. The feisty Texan will be 31 when the season starts, so if he was ever going to play outside his hometown now would be the time.
27. Daniel Chamale – D (Milwaukee Wave) Re-signed with Milwaukee 10/4/17 Chamale is one of only two rookies who made this list and his stock rose quickly in the second half of the season and he contributed six playoff points after only chipping in four points in 20 regular season games. He didn’t even score a goal until his 13th game, but as the season went on he became more comfortable on both ends of the field and excelled defensively.
28. Jesus Flores – GK (Chicago Mustangs) The durable Flores has started over 90% of the Mustangs game in their five-year history and carries a career record of 58-28. The downside is occasional inconsistency and his looming 38th birthday this November.
29. Alex Megson – F (Tacoma Stars) Re-signed with Tacoma 8/28/17 The well-traveled forward has played for nine teams in the last eight seasons, but returned home this season to play for the Tacoma Stars, the team of his father Neil Megson. The junior Megson led the Stars in scoring this year with 28 points and is a popular player with fans wherever he goes.
30. Antonio Manfut – M (Syracuse Silver Knights) Signed with Rio Grande Valley 7/28/17 Manfut will not turn 23 until September but he already has five seasons with the Silver Knights under his belt, steadily improving each season. Given his age and quickness he could still have a high ceiling.
31. Pablo Da Silva – D (Cedar Rapids Rampage) Re-signed with Cedar Rapids 6/1/17 The Wave’s loss was the Rampage’s gain as Pablo finished second among MASL defenders with a career-high 28 points. Da Silva is strong in the back and on the power play, but will turn 37 before the season.
32. Slavisa Ubiparipovic – F (Syracuse Silver Knights) Ubiparipovic just completed his sixth season with the Silver Knights. He almost left once in a trade to Ontario, but was traded back before playing any games. Slavisa has consistently been good for 1.5 points per game throughout his indoor career.
33. Micheal Ramos – M (Tacoma Stars) Magic Mike took a baby step forward last year after a promising rookie year in 2015/16. His points were there but his impact waned as the Stars totally collapsed in the second half of the season. The 26-year old could take his game to another level in the right situation.
34. Juan Gamboa – GK (Dallas Sidekicks) Gamboa has had his ups and downs since going 21-3 his first two years in Hidalgo, but he was able to finish sixth in the MASL in GAA despite playing for the struggling Sidekicks. The Rio Grande Valley Barracudas are back in the league having relocated from Gamboa’s hometown of Brownsville, but remain a short 50 miles away. A return home would give the Barracudas stability in the nets.
35. Brian Harris – D (Kansas City Comets) Harris rebounded from a disaster of a 2015/16 season with a very solid 17 points in 18 games after being a late holdout. If he can get back to his peak form of the 2014 playoffs and 2014/15 season he will be a real difference-maker for someone.
36. Tony Walls – D/F (Cedar Rapids Rampage) Re-signed with Cedar Rapids 6/5/17 Walls didn’t have the same success in Cedar Rapids as he had in Milwaukee, but still managed 17 goals in 19 games playing primarily as a target forward. He has the potential to dominate a game.
37. Lucio Gonzaga – M (Harrisburg Heat) Gonzaga had a strong rebound season after a rough 2015/16 split between Harrisburg and Ontario. Lucio had 19 goals and five assists in 19 games and was strong defensively. He will be 37 in August.
38. Chad Vandegriffe – D (Milwaukee Wave) Re-signed with Milwaukee 6/30/17 Vandegriffe is perennially among the league leaders in blocked shots and can throw his big body around. The four-year veteran will turn 28 in November.
39. Ricardinho – M (Dallas Sidekicks) The veteran 38-year old midfielder just finished his sixth year with the Sidekicks and had his most points since 2008/09. He can still be a good technical player and playmaker.
40. Nelson Santana – D (Baltimore Blast) The long-time defender just won his second indoor championship ring and first since 2009. He will be 39 in December, but still has a few miles left on the tires.