Welcome to Kick-ins, a summary of the week’s arena soccer news.
5/9/18 – Guatemala Here We Come – The US National Arena/Minifootball Team has its schedule for June’s Pan American Cup in Guatemala City, Guatemala. The US drew host Guatemala and Colombia in the first round. Mexico has Argentina and Venezuela and Brazil was matched with Chile and Costa Rica. Canada opted not to participate. The tournament is a qualifier for the 2019 WMF World Cup. The US beat Guatemala in Bakersfield, 7-6 in April, but that was an arena soccer game, not the board-less, six-a-side outdoor format of the Pan American Cup.
5/11/18 – Oliveira Waves Good-bye to Sockers – In one of the Live Period’s bombshells, Luan Sales Oliveira left the San Diego Sockers and re-signed with his original team, the Milwaukee Wave. Oliveira spent most of the last three seasons with the Sockers, served as one of their team captains, and was third on the team last year with 30 points in 20 games, but was held to one point in four playoff games. In 50 regular season games with the Sockers, “LSO” had 34 goals and 27 assists for 61 points. He had 96 points in 63 games in his first tour with the Wave from 2012-2015 until being traded to the Ontario Fury, where he had 10 points in seven games before being traded to the Sockers.
5/11/18 The Man in Black Will Be Back – The Tacoma Stars have inked Head Coach Darren Sawatzky to a two-year contract through the 2019/20 season. Sawatzky has been the team’s only coach since the Stars name was resurrected midway through the 2014/15 season, replacing the troubled Seattle Impact. In four seasons with the Stars, Sawatzky is 35-34 and has guided the team to two playoff appearances.
“Having the opportunity to work with the Tacoma Stars and build something the fans can be proud of is very humbling. We all appreciate the opportunity and really look forward to building on the pieces that got us into the playoffs last year. A big thank you to Lane Smith for bringing back the Stars and giving us the reins to build a winner,” Sawatzky said.
5/15/18 Basso Disastro – The Harrisburg Heat’s Stephen Basso announced that he was retiring from professional soccer after suffering a series of injuries including a herniated disk last season that limited him to nine games, a decision that must have been gut-wrenching for the 30-year old defender. If Basso indeed doesn’t play again, the 2016/17 MASL Defender of the Year will retire with a final line of 116 games played over six indoor seasons and 43 goals and 30 assists for the Rochester Lancers, Ontario Fury, and the Heat.
5/7-5/15/18 – Sockers Signings – The San Diego Sockers continue to be buyers in free agency, but at this point it’s hard to see what their strategy is. Last year, the Sockers would regularly have to sit 5-7 star players every night because their roster was so deep and teams are limited to dressing 15 players per game. Now the team has lost Anthony Medina to retirement and Luan Sale Oliveira to free agency, but they signed Christian Gutierrez, Manuel Rojo, Taylor Bond, and Christian Segura during the Live Period, marking what is shaping up to be a major overhaul rather than the usual tinkering that would follow a division championship and a narrow loss in the Western Conference Finals.
5/15-5/17/18 – Neal Before Bod-en – The expansion Orlando SeaWolves got some major buzz by signing former Orlando City midfielder Lewis Neal at a press conference Tuesday, a move applauded by the local soccer community. The team also pledged to sign his former City teammate Luke Boden, who is currently under contract with the USL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies. The SeaWolves kept up the momentum by signing free agents Gordy Gurson and Piotr Sliwa, serving notice that Orlando will be a highly competitive first-year team in the MASL.