The 2019-20 MASL season has been the most unpredictable yet in good ways (the rise of the Harrisburg Heat, Kansas City Comets, and St. Louis Ambush) and bad ways (the Canada MetroStars folding, the financial collapse of the Orlando SeaWolves, injuries, and the never-ending visa saga).
The bottom line is our projections are looking more crankled than any of the past three years. At the virtual halfway mark, let’s take a look back at our Turf and Boards Official 2019-20 MASL Forecast and see where we were right and where we were wrong and what has transpired since then.
Now: 7-6, 5th place; Predicted: 17-7, 3rd place; On pace for: 13-11
What surprised us: The Blast have played inconsistently and even endured a three-game losing streak that featured lowly Orlando’s only win of the season. The Blast’s trademark defense misses Pat Healey, Nelson Santana, and Elton De Oliveira, and Adriano Dos Santos has unexpectedly struggled mightily in some games this year. Jonatas Melo is not scoring at the pace of last year’s breakout season when he carried the team at times.
Looking ahead: The late additions of Victor France and Lucas Roque can only solidify the Blast’s offense and depth. Baltimore can take solace in their recent strong performance against San Diego and look ahead to a very favorable schedule the rest of the year. Seven of their last 12 games are against 1-10 Orlando and 0-10 Rochester. They also have three meetings with Harrisburg, who lead the Blast by two games for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Now: 10-1, 1st place; Predicted: 17-7, tied 2nd place; On pace for: 22-2
What surprised us: Even as they continued to add pieces during the season, the Tropics superhero team-up has been seamless. Joey Tavernese took the plunge for one more year. Gordy Gurson has missed a career high five games. Hugo Silva has been better than average in goal and Brett Petricek was signed to start when Silva got hurt. Now the Tropics have a solid tandem in the nets even though Rainer Hauss has been in visa limbo all season.
Looking ahead: The Tropics have single games remaining against San Diego and Milwaukee, but they have a clear runway to win the Eastern Conference regular season title.
Now: 8-4, 4th place; Predicted: 12-2, 5th place; On pace for: 16-8
What surprised us: Tavoy Morgan missed the first eight games of the season, but reported just in time to help the Heat in the toughest part of their schedule and has made an immediate impact. With the loss of Ricardo Carvalho, Dominic Francis became a lethal sniper, scoring in all 12 games so far this year. Jerjer Gibson has 16 points in nine games. William Banahene is second in GAA and first in save percentage.
Looking ahead: After close losses to Utica and San Diego, and big wins over Sonora and Baltimore, the Heat should feel like they can play with anyone in the league, but the schedule gets a lot tougher in the second half after running the table in six games against Rochester in their first 10 games.
Kansas City Comets
Now: 6-6, 6th place; Predicted: 7-17, tied 6th place; On pace for: 12-12
What surprised us: The Comets defensive numbers improved under new coach Leo Gibson, despite the loss of several veterans. Four different goalkeepers have each started three games. Ray Lee and Ray Saari have made significant offensive contributions. Kevin Ellis returned midseason and has eight goals in four games.
Looking ahead: The Comets seem to be getting their legs under them and Gibson is on pace for his second highest point total. A playoff berth seems like a big ask, but a 12-12 or 13-11 finish is within reach.
Now: 8-3, 2nd place; Predicted: 17-7, tied 2nd place; On pace for: 17-7
What surprised us: Andre Hayne and Robert Renaud have been kept off the field by visa problems. The Wave traded Jonatan Santos to the Ambush. Rafael Dias has been a serviceable replacement for the injured Josh Lemos. Isaac Pereyra only has six points in 11 games. Luan Oliveira already has five more goals than all of last year. The Wave acquired Derek Huffman from Orlando.
Looking ahead: The Wave need to get healthy on defense and maybe look to improve their roster through free agency or a trade if they can’t get Hayne and Renaud back in action. Even though they are a soft 8-3 right now, and are missing six key players from last year (through free agency, trades, and visa issues) they still can lean on Ian Bennett and Max Ferdinand.
Now: 1-10, 8th place; Predicted: 7-17, tied 6th place; On pace for: 2-22
What surprised us: The team’s coach and owner Chris Kokalis skipped town and left the MASL holding the bag. The SeaWolves are being operated by a handful of teams. Almost all of the original roster has quit or were granted trades to other teams. Tom Traxler returned to take over as coach again. Despite the turmoil, Orlando beat Baltimore and nearly beat St. Louis.
Looking ahead: The SeaWolves are likely to lose most or all of their remaining games while playing before a few dozen to a few hundred fans at home.
Now: 0-11, 9th place; Predicted: 3-21, 9th place; On pace for: 0-24
What surprised us: The Lancers have been out of every game by the end of the third quarter and the beatings have been severe at times.
Looking ahead: Expect more of the same, but even a moderate improvement could still get them to our 3-21 projection, as unlikely as that seems right now.
St. Louis Ambush
Now: 6-7, 7th place; Predicted: 6-18, 8th place; On pace for: 11-13
What surprised us: Tony Walls is having a career year. JT Thomas is having a breakout season. Duduca Carvalho could be the league’s top newcomer. The team added Andre Braithwaite, Pablo Da Silva, Jonatan Santos, and Anthony Grant. Jason Norsic made his first appearance since 2013.
Looking ahead: The loss of the MetroStars cost the Ambush three wins, but they have already reached our six projected wins. Duduca and Oitomeia Souza will help determine how high the Ambush’s upside is. Like the Comets, the Ambush are likely to trade wins and losses and end up outside of the playoff picture.
Now: 7-3, 2nd place; Predicted: 19-5, 1st place; On pace for: 17-7
What surprised us: Diego Zuniga remains in visa stasis, and rumored signings of Brazilian minifootball star Luan Silva and MetroStars forward Molham Babouli have not materialized. Coming off an 18 goal season, James Togbah is still looking for his first City goal. Cristhian Segura has been a dominant offensive force coming off a meager 11 point season. Utica added Onua Obasi.
Looking ahead: Thanks to a sporadic schedule (only four games in January) and splitting four games with Baltimore, Utica has yet to establish any major momentum or intimidation factor and have fallen 2 1/2 games behind Florida. Utica has a very favorable schedule the rest of the way aside from two games in Sonora, two in Harrisburg, and a home game against the Wave.
Now: 2-9, 8th place; Predicted: 6-18, 7th place; On pace for: 5-19
What surprised us: Not a lot. Lipe de Andrade has been OK, but hasn’t stood out. Cameron Brown got hurt after scoring only five points in five games, and Freddy Moojen has eight points in nine games, far from their prior Sidekicks exploits in brighter times.
Looking ahead: More losses, more annoying social media posts, and more cries for Simon Bozas to step down as coach.
Now: 4-8, tied 6th place; Predicted: 14-10, 4th place; On pace for: 6-18
What surprised us: Tatu’s expansion team has been very strong defensively (although that has become a struggle lately), but totally anemic offensively. Goalkeeper Eduardo Cortes has been one of the top rookies in the league. We thought VcMor Eligwe would be on his way to 30 points instead of his current 13, and we thought Jamie Lovegrove would flourish again outside of Bozas’s system. Jorge DeLeon and Anthony Powell have been bright spots.
Looking ahead: Dallas faithful can savor some schadenfreude that the Sidekicks defectors still aren’t winning in Mesquite, except that while the Outlaws are 1-8 against teams outside of Texas, they are 3-0 against the Sidekicks. It might be tempting to use this season to set the foundation for the future, but even with the disappointing start, the Outlaws are still only a game back of the playoffs in the frumpy Western Conference.
Now: 14-1, 1st place; Predicted: 18-6, 2nd place; On pace for: 22-2
What surprised us: Brayan Aguilar is putting up big-time numbers despite spending half his time in the penalty box. Jorge Rios found his groove and the Flash signed Hugo Puentes who has made a big impact. Bernaldino Valdovinos has played a lot more than we expected, but he has been an asset in place of injured Diego Reynoso after they tag-teamed the first several games. Chile Farias had to leave the team for personal reasons and then returned only to find no room for him in the lineup as he was attempting to win one more championship before calling it a long (long) career.
Looking ahead: The Flash have the inside track on the top seed in the Western Conference. They only have one fewer loss than the Sockers, but San Diego has a crippling road schedule ahead, while the Flash play six of their last nine at home and eight of their last nine in Mexico.
Now: 4-7, 5th place; Predicted: 16-8, 3rd place; On pace for: 8-16
What surprised us: The Fury haven’t clicked offensively or defensively and have been prone to give away large leads. Franck Tayou is on a 50 goal pace, but Justin Stinson (who has a solid claim for goal of the year) and Charlie Gonzalez are way back in the rear view mirror and no one else is chipping in offensively. Jermaine Jones has been MIA. Chris Toth’s GAA is pushing 6.00.
Looking ahead: Despite a disastrous start that is shaping up to be our worst prediction, the Fury are somehow only 1/2 game out of the playoffs. Something needs to change, though, if the Fury are going to achieve contender status. Aside from questions about the coaching staff, the roster is seriously lacking depth. The Fury have lost players like Adrien Perez, Francisco Cordeiro, Leonardo De Oliveira, and Tino Nunez in the last two years.
San Diego Sockers
Now: 9-2, 2nd place; Predicted: 19-5, 1st place; On pace for: 19-5
What surprised us: Whether due to injuries or other factors, Kraig Chiles, Leonardo De Oliveira, and Brandon Escoto are way off their historical offensive numbers. Brian Farber leads the Sockers in goals. One-time 50 goal scorer Christian Gutierrez has one goal and former Toros Mexico wunderkind Cesar Romero is scoreless through three games in his return indoors. Despite all that and a season opening loss to Turlock, the Sockers still have the third best record in the league.
Looking ahead: The current road trip will test San Diego, but the Sockers are always judged by what they do in the playoffs. Under this year’s home-and-home playoff format the regular season isn’t as important and the Sockers will have a hard time catching Monterrey anyway.
Now: 5-7, tied 3rd place; Predicted: 10-14, 6th place; On pace for: 10-14
What surprised us: Sonora acquired Wilo Martinez and Daniel Lopez. Enrique Canez shook off his year in Monterrey and jumped to the top of the MASL scoring list. Alejandro Leyva is having his best season since his 2015-16 Rookie of the Year campaign.
Looking ahead: With seven of their last 12 at home, the Soles could be favorites to steal one of the last two playoff spots. Goalkeeping is still their most pressing issue.
Now: 5-7, tied 3rd place; Predicted: 11-13, 5th place; On pace for: 10-14
What surprised us: Nick Perera is on pace for 20 less points than his MVP season. Alex Caceres has been clutch. Adam West has been limited to five games. Philip Lund hasn’t seen any action.
Looking ahead: When Perera or Micheal Ramos carry the offense, or Danny Waltman has a hot night, the Stars can still beat the best of them, but this is a team that will have to play better just to finish .500 for the fourth straight year even though a playoff berth is still there for the taking.
Turlock Cal Express
Now: 4-8, tied 6th place; Predicted: 5-19, 8th place; On pace for: 8-16
What surprised us: Turlock beat San Diego and opened the season 3-1. Adrian Gutierrez opened the season in better shape and better form. Manuel Rojo was an early scoring sensation. We were surprised by how quick league fans were to anoint them as the new powerhouses of the MASL after years as the league’s ugly stepsister.
Looking ahead: Like a lot of teams, the Express have visa woes, with more than a half dozen players already missing half the season. Most of those players would be new to the MASL, but have M2 experience with Sockers 2 and some of them have played games with the Mexican National Futbol Rapido Team. The Express are right in the center of the playoff fight, but after losing seven of their last eight, they are trending the wrong way.
|Projected 2019-20 MASL Standings|
|Team||Preseason Prediction||Current Pace||Projected Difference|
|Utica City FC||19-5||17-7||-2|
|Kansas City Comets||7-17||12-12||+5|
|St. Louis Ambush||6-18||11-13||+5|
|Team||Preseason Prediction||Current Pace||Projected Difference|
|San Diego Sockers||19-5||19-5||—–|
|Turlock Cal Express||5-19||8-16||+3|