The Major Arena Soccer League free agency “live period” is back, starting tomorrow at zero hour 9:00 am EDT. All contracts must then be received by the MASL by 6:00 pm. EDT on May 15, 2018.
That last detail was important last year when the Cedar Rapids Rampage agreed to a deal with Daniel Chamale, but were not able to submit the contract in time and his rights remained with the Milwaukee Wave, who signed him to a three-year contract.
This year’s pool of free agents is deeper than last year’s and no less unpredictable. Last year during the live period all of the Chicago Mustangs players were granted free agency after the team failed to meet its obligations to the league. The Rampage acted swiftly and snatched up 40-goal scorer Taylor Bond, which proved to be the biggest signing of the live period.
In fact, of the 12 signings during the live period last year, eight were players re-signing with their current teams and the other four were all former Mustangs. But this year, beyond the top 40 there is plenty of value. There are easily another 20 free agents who could have arguably made this list.
MASL contracts tend to expire at different times. Some players became free agents as soon as the 2017/18 season ended. They can sign with anyone after May 1 and can still sign with anyone after the live period ends on May 15. Then there are players whose contracts end at different times. Many contracts end at the end of August which allows teams to have players under contract through their summer camps. These players basically receive a two week amnesty from their contracts and are able to sign with another team throughout the live period. If they don’t sign with anyone before May 15 their rights stay with their current team until their contract ends.
Some teams only sign their players to one-year contracts. The Turlock Express and Monterrey Flash currently have zero players under contract. On the opposite extreme are teams who opt to sign their players to long-term deals. The Ontario Fury, for example, have 25 players under contract and zero free agents.
The San Diego Sockers have lived and died by free agency the last few years and they have a murderer’s row of free agents about to hit the market including Luan Sales Oliveira, John Sosa, and Cesar Cerda.
The expansion Toronto team doesn’t have a name, website, or Facebook page, and are probably not positioned to participate in the live period either.
Fans in St. Louis, where the Ambush have a .259 winning percentage over five seasons, will be anxious for the team to finally make a splash, but the team didn’t pull the trigger on any deals this time last year, even as the team was coming off a 1-19 season.
There are three top goalkeepers available (Diego Reynoso, Andrew Coughlin, and Joey Kapinos, plus unranked Brett Petricek) and a team like the El Paso Coyotes or Kansas City Comets would benefit immensely from having a lock down ‘keeper.
Teams have been scrambling to lock down their free agents and several players on this list have, in fact, already re-signed, pending league approval and announcements by the teams.
When the dust clears, 80% of the league’s free agents will probably still be with their current teams, but enough players are available to shift the balance of power in the MASL. Last year, 25 of the Top 40 MASL Free Agents re-signed with their current teams, 10 players changed teams (three of those players came from the defunct Dallas Sidekicks), and the remaining five players never signed.
Since the league all but confirmed the demise of the Cedar Rapids Rampage by removing them from their website we have placed the odds of their free agents leaving Cedar Rapids as 100%. This does not preclude them from following former Rampage General Manager Chris Kokalis to Orlando.
1. Franck Tayou – F (Sonora Soles) Signed with Monterrey 7/17/18 The three-time reigning MASL Most Valuable Player is on the loose. Franck seemed poised to sign with another team last year, but after some deliberation, the league ruled that he still had one more year left on his contract. Now his league-record 71 goals are hitting the free market. Chance of moving 50%
2. John Sosa – D (San Diego Sockers) Sosa became a key cog in the Sockers defense, and maybe becomes more important as the team’s backline ages out. The Sockers traded Victor Quiroz to Sonora midseason, and Eddie Velez (37 in October) and Ze Roberto (40 in July) are nearing the finish lines of their careers. Sosa still maintains a presence in the Kansas City area and a return to the Comets would do wonders for their defensive bottom line. Chance of moving 30%
3. Damian Garcia – D (Monterrey Flash) Ace defender and two-way player Garcia returned to Monterrey last year after two years in Sonora. Garcia played in Monterrey for the LMFR Flash and played for the Rio Grande Valley Flash and the team that succeeded them in Hiadalgo, before following Flash GM Jose Luis Trevino to Sonora. He’s likely to stay in Monterrey but he did venture out to Wichita and Beaumont in 2014/15. Chance of moving 15%
4. Gordy Gurson – F (Cedar Rapids Rampage) Signed with Orlando 5/15/18 Gurson burst onto the scene with 36 goals in his first 13 games playing a freewheeling style on an unstructured Seattle Impact team, but then saw a gradual decline and a very tough second half of the 2016/17 season. Gurson responded to critics, who called him a diver and said he couldn’t perform in big games, by putting the Rampage on his shoulders and carrying them to the playoffs, where he had 10 more points in two one goal losses to the formidable Milwaukee Wave. Gurson will only turn 26 next month, is great with fans, and finished 6th in the league with 49 points last year. Chance of moving 100%
5. Joey Tavernese – F (Syracuse Silver Knight) Tavernese is said to be considering retirement, but could be lured back for another season by an enticing offer under the right circumstances. The forward, who turns 29 in July, is coming of a career year in which he scored a Silver Knights record 54 points and was a darkhorse MVP candidate. Chance of moving 30%
6. Tony Donatelli – F (Baltimore Blast) Donatelli, who will be 34 when the season starts, has spent the last six years with the Blast and scored a career-high 43 points en route to helping the Blast land the three-peat. Chance of moving 3%
7. Diego Reynoso – GK (Monterrey Flash) Reynoso has appeared in the Newman Cup finals four straight years, but has lost the last three, making him the LeBron James of the MASL. His 61-9 regular season record is unparalleled. Chance of moving 10%
8. Leo Gibson – F (Kansas City Comets) Re-signed with Kansas City 6/29/18 Gibson is the heart and soul of the Comets, the team he has called home for the last eight seasons. He will be 35 when the season starts and the Comets had a fire sale last year, but with the franchise stabilized we can probably expect Gibson to stick around Kansas City a couple more years. Gibson has has trouble with concussions, but played all 22 games last year and had his best output in the last three years, finishing third in the MASL with 58 points. Chance of moving 15%
9. Edgar Gonzalez – F (Monterrey Flash) The Flash rookie nabbed a co-Rookie of the Year award and led the Flash in scoring in both the regular season and the playoffs. He will be 29 when his second year starts and will likely be wearing a Flash jersey. Chance of moving 10%
10. Erick Flores – M (Monterrey Flash) “Kire” Flores was limited to one playoff game, a critical blow to the Flash’s championship chances. When healthy, Flores finished third on the Flash with 32 points. Flores will be 33 when the season starts. Chance of moving 10%
11. Edgar Flores – F (Monterrey Flash) “Chapa” Flores tied for the Flash lead with 36 points, a career high. The 30-year old will likely return for another round in Monterrey. Chance of moving 10%
12. Luan Sales Oliveira – F (San Diego Sockers) Signed with Milwaukee 5/10/18 In his sixth season, Oliveira finished third on the Sockers with 30 points and has risen to the rank of co-captain. He was often the Sockers heart, pumping energy to his teammates, but had a disappointing playoffs with just one point in four games. Chance of moving 25%
13. Andrew Coughlin – GK (Syracuse Silver Knights) Coughlin had a breakthrough season, leading the Silver Knights to the playoffs, while making all 22 starts and leading the MASL in minutes played. He is from the Syracuse area and has played his entire three-year career there. Chance of moving 20%
14. Slavisa Ubiparipovic – F (Syracuse Silver Knights) Ubiparipovic set a career-high with 39 points in his 8th indoor season, finishing second in points on the Silver Knights. He also set a personal best with 23 goals in his 7th season in Syracuse. He re-signed last year just two days before the Silver Knights season opener. Chance of moving 30%
15. Omar Santillan – D/F (Monterrey Flash) Santillan was one of the Flash’s unsung heroes, contributing on both ends of the floor. The former Guadalajara Guerrero and Chicago Mustang will be 33 in December. Chance of moving 15%
16. Lucas Roque – F (Baltimore Blast) The 30-year old has taken personal time away from the team and missed a significant amount of time with injuries, but he is one of the Blast’s top offensive weapons and can score in the clutch. Chance of moving 10%
17. Brayan Aguilar – F (Monterrey Flash) Aguilar finished with 25 points in 19 games and then led the Flash with seven playoff goals. At 24 he is the youngest lineup regular on the Flash. Chance of moving 15%
18. Guilherme Veiga – D (Milwaukee Wave) Re-signed with Milwaukee 6/26/18 Another strong two-way player who is a major contributor when healthy, Veiga had his strongest season before being hobbled in the playoffs by plantar fasciitis. Veiga, 34, missed 17 games in 2016/17, but played 20 games last year and matched his career high with 15 points. Chance of moving 20%
19. Anibal Echeverria – F (Sonora Soles) Echeverria finished (a distant) second on the Soles, scoring 41 points in his third MASL season. The Soles will want to re-sign him, especially with the possibility of Franck Tayou leaving in free agency. Chance of moving 20%
20. Victor Baez – D (Monterrey Flash) Baez took a backseat offensively last year, chipping in just eight points, two seasons removed from his 43-point explosion with Saltillo Rancho Seco. At 27 Baez is one of the youngest Flash players and a respected player who is entering his sixth season. Chance of moving 15%
21. Cesar Cerda – D (San Diego Sockers) Re-signed with San Diego 5/18/18 Cerda, who just turned 25 is already a five year veteran, who spent the last two seasons in San Diego. Cerda scored 31 points a year for three straight years before signing with San Diego and sliding into a more defensive role on the star-studded Sockers. Chance of moving 20%
22. Max Touloute – F (San Diego Sockers) The Haitian Sensation got totally lost in the Sockers All-Star log jam and notched just two goals and three assists a year after scoring 16 goals and nine assists in his first year in San Diego. Touloute, who just turned 28, is too quick and talented to ride the pine and should have a resurgent season somewhere else. Chance of moving 75%
23. Gustavo Rosales – M (Sonora Soles) Rosales, 37, matched a career high with 30 points last season, picking up the slack for former teammates who left in free agency. If Rosales were going to leave he probably would have gone back to Monterrey when the Flash returned to the MASL last year. Chance of leaving 10%
24. Pablo Da Silva – D (St. Louis Ambush) Pablo will be 38 when the season starts and probably won’t be around when the Ambush finally become a competitive team. He can stay with long-time teammate Hewerton Moreira and try to be a mentor or he can go (back) to a team like Baltimore or Milwaukee and lend his experience to a contender. Chance of leaving 35%
25. Derek Huffman – D (Cedar Rapids Rampage) Huffman has run afoul of the MASL for criticizing the league and insulting fans, but has otherwise stayed out of trouble on and off the field, so it would be a stretch to say he comes with baggage, but he needs to lay low and focus on soccer. Offensively or defensively Huffman can help any team and should still have some upside as he heads into just his third indoor season. Chance of moving 100%
26. Sam Guernsey – D (Cedar Rapids Rampage) Signed with Baltimore 5/23/18 Guernsey is a nice guy who plays nasty and is a shot blocking machine. The 25-year old already is a five year veteran. He has played midfield, but is probably better suited in the back. Chance of moving 100%
27. Jake Schindler – D (Syracuse Silver Knights) The broad shouldered Syracuse defender is a reliable ball mover, who scored a career-high 16 points in his 7th indoor season. The Rochester native has played his entire career in northern New York. Chance of moving 15%
28. Joey Kapinos – GK (Baltimore Blast) Re-signed with Baltimore 5/23/18 Several teams could have used Joey’s services last year after he was released by the Ontario Fury, but whether he didn’t like the offers or his phone wasn’t ringing, the wait was worth it when the Baltimore Blast came calling after William Vanzela went down with an injury. Kapinos earned a ring by keeping the Blast afloat until Vanzela came back and won his fourth championship in six years. With Vanzela back Kapinos could be an extravagance for Baltimore, but his stock should be pretty high right now. Chance of moving 40%
29. Dylan Hundelt – D (St. Louis Ambush) Signed with Orlando 5/21/18 One of the few bright spots for the Ambush was Hundelt, son of St. Louis great Kevin Hundelt. Dylan plays like his long hair is on fire and had a breakout moment in his third season. As a legacy playing in his home town it would be a travesty if the Ambush let him go anywhere. Chance of moving 10%
30. Freddy Moojen – F (Florida Tropics) Re-signed with Florida 6/27/18 The 35-year old well-traveled forward has been a player/assistant coach the last two years and could be eyeing a transition into coaching. Re-signing him should be a priority for the Tropics. He finished second on the team this year with 22 goals and 35 points. Chance of moving 20%
31. Nick Perera – F (Tacoma Stars) Re-signed with Tacoma 6/5/18 Perera only needed four games to take over the Stars scoring lead and helped them surpass the Ontario Fury and claim a playoff spot before falling in the minigame to the Sockers. He scored eight more points than any other Star despite only playing in 12 of their 22 games. The Stars have been very aggressive since last offseason in trying to improve their lineup so a reunion seems likely. Chance of moving 15%
32. Ben Ramin – D (Syracuse Silver Knights) We didn’t include Pat Healey on this list because he is playing on his hometown team who just won three straight Newman Cups and his dad happens to be the General Manager. He already retired once as well so the chances of him signing anywhere else seem to be approximately zero. Ramin could be in a similar situation. He is a local player and his father is one of the co-owners of the Silver Knights. The only difference is after his breakthrough season, Ramin is only 24 and the chance to play in another city might be attractive at that age. Chance of moving 8%
33. Taylor Bond – F (Tacoma Stars) Signed with San Diego 5/15/18 Last year’s big live period prize did not come close to replicating his 40-goal 2016/17 season, denting the net just 10 times in 12 games with Cedar Rapids before being shuffled off to Tacoma at the trade deadline where he only notched seven goals in nine games. Bond has all of the potential in the world and could be poised for a rebound season, but is Tacoma willing to take that chance? Chance of moving 50%
34. Antonio Manfut – M (Rio Grande Valley Barracudas) Signed with St. Louis 5/7/18 Manfut followed Moises Gonzalez out of Syracuse to join the Barracudas and suffered through a miserable three-win season, while scoring a respectable 20 goals. Still only 23, the six-year veteran can probably take his pick where he wants to play next year. Chance of moving 75%
35. Miguel Vaca – M (Monterrey Flash) Vaca will be 37 in October, but is still one of the best ball handlers in the game and scored 22 goals in 21 games last year for the Flash. Unless Guadalajara gets an MASL team, one would expect Vaca to one day retire as a member of the Flash. Chance of moving 10%
36. Daniel Mattos – M (Milwaukee Wave) Mattos is a skilled playmaker who is strong on the power play and restarts. He would be a good target for the Ambush, not necessarily as a difference maker, but as a key upgrade. Chance of moving 25%
37. Joshio Sandoval – D (Cedar Rapids Rampage) Signed with Orlando 6/12/18 Sandoval didn’t have his best year, but he’s a consistent defender who can chip in on offense once in a while. In five years he has only missed three games and is well-liked by his teammates. Chance of moving 100%
38. Moises Gonzalez – F (Rio Grande Valley Barracudas) Gonzalez is an original Barracuda and managed an impressive 33 points in 21 otherwise forgettable games. He could be the centerpiece of a Barracuda resurgence. Chance of moving 10%
39. Lucio Gonzaga – D (Harrisburg Heat) The Heat was off, but Lucio had another strong season, aside from three games he was suspended for running over James Togbah. The downside is he will be 38 in August. The Heat still need him but a contending team might see him as a player who can put them over the top. Chance of moving 25%
40. Ivan Campos – F (Turlock Express) Ivan Campos is a scoring machine, but the rotund forward is NOT a specimen of a professional athlete. His 24 goals and 39 points cannot be overlooked, but his value was at his highest at the trade deadline and no one scooped him up. Chance of moving 5%