The Florida Tropics spent their first summer vacation playing in the PDL under the Lakeland Tropics banner. Now, having completed their outdoor season with a 9-3-2 mark, the Tropics held a press conference to reset their offseason and turn the focus back to indoor.
The first order of business was the introduction of two new players who will be making their MASL debuts this winter. Goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo and defender Rafael Alves will join a Tropics team that went a solid 8-12 as an expansion entrant last season.
Gallardo, 32, was born in Mexico, but grew up near Austin, Texas and began his career with the PDL’s Austin Lightning, eventually progressing to the USL with the Austin Aztex/Orlando City. In Orlando, Gallardo led the team to two USL championships in three seasons, and won the 2011 USL Goalkeeper of the Year Award. When Orlando City joined MLS, Gallardo became the first player to sign with the Jacksonville Armada of the NASL before joining Orlando City’s broadcast team back in February.
Gallardo is expected to battle incumbent netminder Piotr Sliwa for the starting goalkeeper spot. “The addition of Miguel allows us to have great depth,” said Head Coach Clay Roberts, “and Miguel coming on board definitely puts it up for grabs between Piotr and Miguel.” He does have some indoor experience. Gallardo played for the Austin Amp’d in the Premier Arena Soccer League in 2007/08.
Alves, who is also 32, played in Brazil’s second division before playing four years in the NASL with the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers and Ottawa Fury, totaling 67 appearances.
Other announcements at the press conference:
- The Tropics have signed a three-year lease extension at RP Funding Center (formerly known as The Lakeland Center), which is undergoing a $14 million renovation.
- The Tropics home opener will take place on November 18