Welcome to Kick-ins, a summary of the recent arena soccer news.
6/20/18 We Got a Runner! – Major Arena Soccer League2 (M2) announced its 11th team, bringing arena soccer to Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The New Mexico Runners will play in the 6,000 seat Santa Ana Star Center. The Runners (short for the roadrunner bird) are keeping it in the family. The team is owned by Andres Trujillo, joined by his father and sister. The path to professional arena soccer in metro-Albuquerque can be traced back to last September when the US National Arena Soccer Team hosted Mexico at the arena.
6/22-6/26/18 Lepetit Heat – When news broke on June 22 that the Harrisburg Heat had let one of its cornerstone players, goalkeeper Hugo Silva, sign with the Florida Tropics, another wave of panic set in among Heat faithful. The move made a lot of sense for Florida after their incumbent starter, Piotr Sliwa, signed with the Orlando SeaWolves. The Heat, however, just suffered through a 6-16 season in which Silva was one of the few bright spots. Enter James Lepetit, who becomes one of the tallest and youngest goalkeepers in arena soccer history. Lepetit, who has played futsal, but not arena soccer has been playing with the NPSL’s Rochester Lancers outdoors. The 6’4″, 20-year old is a huge risk for the Heat, who are hoping he pans out more like a Josh Lemos and less like the Kansas City Comets trio of rookies, or many of the other young ‘keepers the Heat have churned through since 2012.
6/27/18 SeaWolves Samba – The Orlando SeaWolves announced that their first ever game would be an international exhibition against the Brazilian National Minifootball Team. Orlando will inaugurate Silver Spurs Arena on November 10. The SeaWolves have a number of Brazilian players including Victor France and Rainer Hauss who could be candidates to play for either team.
6/28/18 Blasting Out of the Box – The Baltimore Blast have been leaders on the field and in group sales, but often lag behind other teams in marketing and creativity, so it was welcome news to hear they will be hosting the Canadian National Arena Soccer Team on August 4 at SECU Arena. This is possibly Baltimore’s first major exhibition game since 1992 when the original Blast played at Aston Villa and then folded. Notably, Keith Furphy and Preki played for the Blast that day, as well as Jason Dieter and Goran Hunjak, who would become fixtures on the Baltimore Spirit the following year. Canada will use this game, and possibly other yet-to-be-announced games, to train for October’s Arena Soccer World Championship in Mexico. One player who has a tough decision to make is Canada midfielder Ian Bennett, who had already committed to playing in the charity Professional Futsal Showcase in St. Louis on the same date.
6/29/18 Leo Back for More – Leo Gibson, one of four active Comets from the franchise’s maiden 2010/11 season, will be back for a ninth year with the club, the team announced. Gibson and Stefan Stokic are the only two Comets to play all eight seasons, though Stokic played an additional season in 2004/05 in an earlier incarnation of the Comets. It is Gibson, however who leads the current franchise in goals (189) and points (360). The 34-year old became a bigger focal point for the Comets last year after the departure of several other star players. Bringing back a player who was 3rd in the MASL last year with 58 points is an important move for the Comets, and the second move the team has made since new ownership took over on May 21. On June 11, the team announced a contract extension for head coach Kim Roentved.