In the immortal words of Don Adams’s Maxwell Smart, “Missed it by that much.” In October we set out to act as spoilers and tell you how the Major Arena Soccer League season was going to go, and we were perhaps a Robert Renaud injury away from nailing it.
We correctly predicted all four division winners, three of the four last place teams, and six of the eight playoff teams. We totally blew our calls on the Harrisburg Heat (who lost six more games than projected) and Syracuse Silver Knights (who won seven more), but were within four on every other teams’ projected records. We were within two games on seven teams, but were only dead on the money calling the Tacoma Stars 11-11 record.
Where suffered from being too conservative in our predictions. All four division winners won more games than we predicted and three of the four predicted-last place teams lost more games than anticipated.
We correctly predicted all four teams that would make it to the Conference Finals and Monterrey’s win over the San Diego Sockers, but the Baltimore Blast, never to be counted out, dashed our plans by downing the Wave, and then toppling Monterrey.
The turning point could have been the season ending knee injury Renaud sustained on January 14, which ironically could have doomed both the Wave and the Flash. Renaud was having a superstar season with 32 points in 14 games – already four more points in six less games than he had in his standout rookie season – and the injury could have ultimately cost Milwaukee home field advantage in the Eastern Conference Final and a possible trip to the Ron Newman Cup Championship game.
In the end it was once again the Blast, proving they could get it done when it counted, regardless of their regular season record or playoff venue.
Here is a look at some additional comments from October that can be appreciated for their genius or foolishness in hindsight.
• Thiago Freitas – Last year he showed off some fancy moves, but this year look for more output from Freitas on the scoresheet.
• (The Wave) were able to re-sign their unstoppable duo of Ian Bennett and Max Ferdinand, and rising stars Drew Ruggles, Daniel Chamale, Robert Renaud and Josh Lemos should push the Wave to the upper echelon of the MASL.
• The Flash and Head Coach Mariano Bollella have assembled a top notch roster that should put them among the MASL’s elite teams.
• If not fully a contender, El Paso should at least be an interesting team to watch this year.
• With Las Vegas out of the league and Sonora diminished, San Diego will now have to overcome Monterrey to advance out of the Western Conference for the first time since 2013.
• (Miguel) Gallardo should push Piotr Sliwa for the starting goalkeeper spot and could overtake him at some point.
• The Silver Knights are heading in the opposite direction of their three division rivals.
• (Leo) Gibson is not the dominant player he once was.
Best Laid Plans:
• (The Rampage) will need (Taylor) Bond, (Gordy) Gurson, and second year goalkeeper Brett Petricek to put the team on their shoulders for new coach Jonathan Greenfield.
|Projected 2017/18 MASL Standings|
|Syracuse Silver Knights||6-16/13-9/+7|
|Cedar Rapids Rampage||13-9/11-11/-2|
|Kansas City Comets||11-11/7-15/-4|
|St. Louis Ambush||6-16/3-19/-3|
|El Paso Coyotes||9-13/11-11/+2|
|Rio Grande Valley Barracudas||6-16/3-19/-3|
|San Diego Sockers||15-7/19-3/+4|
Newman Cup Finals