We have reached the de facto midpoint of the MASL season. The 2017 portion of the 2017/18 season is in the books and four teams have played exactly half their schedule. Only five teams have played less than 10 games, with San Diego bringing up the rear with just seven games played. The flipping of the calendar affords us a good opportunity to see where we’ve been, where we are going, and what has changed since we did our Turf and Boards Official 2017/18 MASL Forecast on October 26.
As things stand today, all four of our preseason picks to win the division are running away with their respective divisions. Baltimore only has a two game lead right now, but they have only lost twice all year. Only two of our second place picks are in position, but Harrisburg and Sonora are still in the picture.
The biggest deviations are with Milwaukee, Monterrey, and San Diego, who are each on pace to go 22-0, while we projected each of those teams to lose six or seven times. Those deviations will tighten up some because we know that Monterrey plays both San Diego and Milwaukee, so there will be at least two losses between the three teams. Plus Milwaukee has to play Baltimore three straight times in February. And it just ain’t easy to go 22-0.
The other big swings involve Kansas City and Sonora playing much worse than we expected, and Syracuse overperforming. We thought it was bold when we predicted Kansas City would win four less games, and Sonora would win five less, than last year, despite this year’s schedule being two games longer. While few could have predicted their total first half collapse, we still think both teams will improve on the back 11.
All credit to Ryan Hall and Syracuse. They have a long way to go at 4-4, but they should easily surpass our dour 6-16 prediction.
Baltimore Blast (8-2, first place)
What surprised us: Scoring has gone up at home following their move to a smaller field at SECU Arena, but the Blast have only given up 10 goals their last three home games, and we thought William Vanzela would have a GAA over 5.00, but right now he sits at 4.34.
Looking ahead: The Blast can pretty much coast to first place, but three games against Milwaukee in February will be an exciting test.
Florida Tropics (6-4, second place)
What surprised us: Ricardo Diegues is off to a strong start and Piotr Sliwa not only has held onto his starting job, but has shaved 1.00 goals per game off his GAA.
Looking ahead: We thought Florida would challenge Harrisburg for the second playoff spot and so far the Heat haven’t kept their part of the bargain. Florida still has more upside, but things are so tight a bad loss here or there could derail them.
Syracuse Silver Knights (4-4, third place)
What surprised us: After our preview published the Knights re-signed Slavisa Ubiparipovic and acquired Nick Perera from Ontario. Perera played just three games, all on the road, and was curiously shipped off to Tacoma. Syracuse went 1-2 in those games. Ubiparipovic has been a key contributor and there is little doubt that they wouldn’t be where they are now without him. Joey Tavernese is having a career year.
Looking ahead: Syracuse gets four games with 1-10 St. Louis, but has to play three games in 44 hours in three cities later this month. Kenardo Forbes’s numbers are way down, and Syracuse started 4-5 last year before finishing 8-12, which is our cop out way of saying things could go either way.
Harrisburg Heat (4-7, fourth place)
What surprised us: Thiago Freitas, one of our breakout picks for the year, leads the league in assists, but only has three goals. The Heat have been beset by injuries. Only six players have played more than nine games. None of the team’s offseason additions have made any impact.
Looking ahead: The Heat have only four home games left and seem a few pieces short of getting back into the playoff race.
Milwaukee Wave (10-0, first place)
What surprised us: Not a lot. The Wave finished last season on an 11-3 run and added back a healthy Marcio Leite and a re-signed Jonatan Santos to the mix. The biggest surprises are that they have done so well without Chad Vandegriffe and Daniel Chamale who have yet to suit up. Second year man Robert Renaud has doubled his points per game average from last year and is tied for third in the MASL with 27 points.
Looking ahead: Monterrey and Baltimore (x3) are on the schedule, but barring injuries, the Central Division title is a fait accompli.
Cedar Rapids Rampage (6-5, second place)
What surprised us: Since the season started they have jettisoned Jonathan Greenfield as a coach and a player, traded assistant coach Pablo Da Silva, and benched starting goalkeeper Brett Petricek and despite an 0-3 start they presently have a 3 1/2 game lead over Kansas City for the second playoff spot. Mohamed Kenawy and Alex Bradley are two of the top rookies in the league and Rainer Hauss has played two superb games in the nets since replacing Petricek. The Gurson-Bond connection we were anticipating hasn’t panned out, but new coach Ante Cop has a lot to work with.
Looking ahead: We see the Rampage finishing 10-12, which sounds bad, but the Comets would then have to go 9-3 to pass them. Cedar Rapids might have the most difficult remaining schedule in the league with six games coming up against the Blast, Wave and Flash.
Kansas City Comets (2-8, third place)
What surprised us: We weren’t sure on October 26 that Stephen Patterson and Vahid Assadpour weren’t coming back. In fact, the Comets had only just announced their first eight players signings a day before our preview. After 10 games, they have single wins against St. Louis (1-10) and Tacoma (3-6), while sporting a team GAA over 8.00.
Looking ahead: The Comets have nowhere to go but up, and their track record and history suggest they will improve and rebuild.
St. Louis Ambush (1-10, fourth place)
What surprised us: We thought Victor France was the future of the Ambush but he was traded to Cedar Rapids. Now the faces of the Ambush, who have lost 24 of their last 25, are 37-year old Pablo and 38-year old Hewerton. We knew the Ambush didn’t do enough to improve this offseason, but we thought Hewerton could win a couple games on the strength of his coaching and scoring ability.
Looking ahead: The Ambush have one win and three one-goal losses, but it’s hard to imagine anything saving this from being a totally lost season for the franchise.
Monterrey Flash (10-0, first place)
What surprised us: We knew Monterrey would be good, but the Flash lost Erick Tovar, Genoni Martinez and others from their 2014/15 Newman Cup champion team, and they surely have the oldest roster in the league. Chile Farias was a late signing, but is making a major impact at 41. Rookie Edgar Gonzalez has 14 goals.
Looking ahead: Monterrey hosts Milwaukee on January 14 and San Diego on January 28.
El Paso Coyotes (5-5, second place)
What surprised us: Things have gone pretty much how we predicted, despite last year’s 0-20 finish. The Coyotes were on a roll at 5-2, but have since lost goalkeeper Jesus Molina for the season, while losing their last three games. Hugo Puentes is a top rookie.
Looking ahead: The Coyotes better find a goalkeeper, and put it in gear if they want to hold off Sonora.
Soles de Sonora (3-6, third place)
What surprised us: We didn’t think Franck Tayou was coming back. He was set to sign somewhere else but the league determined he was still under contract with the Soles. Even with King Tayou lighting the lamp on a regular basis, the Soles have already matched their entire loss total of the last two full seasons combined. Enrique Canez, Daniel Lopez, and Erick Rosas’s scoring are way down. The team has juggled four different goalkeepers.
Looking ahead: Sonora’s last game, a 17-9 win over El Paso was reminiscent of their last two seasons.
Rio Grande Valley Barracudas (2-9, fourth place)
What surprised us: The Barracudas came in with a lot of players lacking successful indoor track records, but none of them have emerged to make a name for themselves so far.
Looking ahead: The Barracudas are not scoring goals, but they are allowing almost 10 goals per game. It doesn’t get easier.
San Diego Sockers (7-0, first place)
What surprised us: John Sosa, Peewee Ortega, and Max Touloute have combined for only one goal this year. The Sockers have a roster full of snipers, playmakers, and two-way defenders, but are winning with defense.
Looking ahead: The Sockers catch up to the pack, schedule-wise, with eight games this month. Phil Salvagio should be able to match up with anyone; the Sockers have 20 players who would start every game with any other team.
Ontario Fury (5-4, second place)
What surprised us: Rookie goalkeeper Jose Miranda seems to be getting his sea legs. The Fury survived a five-game road trip and injuries, and could be poised to run away with second place, though the Sockers are out of reach.
Looking ahead: Keep an eye on rookie Adrien Perez, who has five goals and two assists in his last two games. He also scored six goals last weekend in an M2 game against Sockers 2. Leonardo De Oliveira, maybe the best ball handler in the MASL, scored four goals last game after a dry stretch that saw him collect just three points in four games.
Tacoma Stars (3-6, third place)
What surprised us: The trio of Palmer, Palmer, and Matingou have combined for just two goals and four assists, “leading” the second worst offense in the MASL. Philip Lund and Joey Gjertsen’s team leading eight points would rank them 10th on the Flash in scoring.
Looking ahead: The Stars acquired Nick Perera from Syracuse to try to invigorate the offense.
Turlock Express (2-8 fourth place)
What surprised us: Turlock is only 1-3 at home, where they traditionally gave teams fits. Ivan Campos has already surpassed his 2016-17 point total in seven less games.
Looking ahead: The Express may have taken their PASL/MASL run as far as their small market can take them. Turlock is heading for a fifth straight losing season and is still below the MASL standard for seating capacity. Between Merced and Modesto they have a sufficient metro population, but having only 2,539 Facebook fans after several years indicates their small influence in the marketplace.
|Projected 2017/18 MASL Standings (10/26/17)|
|Eastern Division||Predicted/On Pace/Difference|
|Syracuse Silver Knights||6-16/11-11/+5|
|Central Division||Predicted/On Pace/Difference|
|Cedar Rapids Rampage||13-9/12-10/-1|
|Kansas City Comets||11-11/4-18/-7|
|St. Louis Ambush||6-16/2-20/-4|
|Southwest Division||Predicted/On Pace/Difference|
|El Paso Coyotes||9-13/11-11/+2|
|Rio Grande Valley Barracudas||6-16/4-18/-2|
|Pacific Division||Predicted/On Pace/Difference|
|San Diego Sockers||15-7/22-0/+7|