The past three seasons the Major Arena Soccer League has had a Free Agency Live Period where every free agent and pending free agent were open game for two weeks, whether their contracts had already expired or were set to expire before the following season.
This year, however, the MASL owners decided on a traditional free agency, starting July 1. Anyone whose contract ended between the end of last season and now are free agents. If a player’s contract expires August 31, for instance, he won’t be available for other teams to sign until September 1.
The league only released the names of players who are currently available, so our annual Top 40 list will shrink to a Top 30 list this year. Keep in mind, some of the biggest free agency “prizes” have yet to hit the market and the league doesn’t make their contract details public, so it’s impossible to handicap anything beyond the list the league released yesterday.
Among the caveats are basic questions like: Will there even be a 2020-21 season? Will the Mexican teams be able to participate? How much will the visa process interfere with teams’ rosters?
Last week, the White House announced new restrictions on certain types of visas that didn’t directly impact the MASL, but signaled further political antagonism toward foreign workers.
“Our foreign players offer so much to the game by raising the quality of play, which in turn creates revenue, which creates and supports jobs for Americans,” said MASL Vice President of Operations Jon Ramin. “We care about that and don’t intend to give up working on their employment opportunities to play and represent their teams in their communities.”
The list includes mummified legends Doug Miller and Sagu, and virtually the entire rosters of the Monterrey Flash, Mesquite Outlaws, Orlando SeaWolves, Rochester Lancers, and Turlock Express. Thirteen of the 17 teams have at least one free agent. The Baltimore Blast, St. Louis Ambush, Harrisburg Heat, and Tacoma Stars don’t have any players who have reached free agency as of today.
1. Max Ferdinand – F (Milwaukee Wave) Signed with St. Louis 7/6/20 The Max half of “IMax”, has been setting up Milwaukee linemate Ian Bennett for the last five seasons and it would be a real power shift if anyone lured the four-time All-League 1st Teamer away. The Wave have a lot of free agents this year so they might make Max their top priority or let him go in order to free up money to retain the most players. Most likely they will keep Max and re-sign most of their free agents.
2. Chris Toth – GK (Ontario Fury) Signed with Tacoma 7/24/20 Fresh off winning his third Goalkeeper of the Year award in four years, Toth could probably go anywhere he wanted, but he hasn’t ventured far away from home in his 10-year indoor career.
3. Brayan Aguilar – F (Monterrey Flash) Not turning 27 until November, Aguilar set all kinds of personal career highs and was in the MVP conversation on the heels of his 48 point season that ultimately landed him on the MASL All-League 2nd Team.
4. Diego Reynoso – GK (Monterrey Flash) Reynoso had a weird season thanks to Monterrey’s unconventional 30-minute goalie rotation combined with a midseason injury, but he ended up 6-0 with a GAA in the low 3.00s.
5. Gordy Gurson – F (Florida Tropics) Signed with San Diego 7/2/20 Gurson was unceremoniously released by the Tropics despite scoring a hefty 21 points in 11 injury-impaired games. Gurson’s “Let’s play two” invincibility was shattered last year, but at 28 remains one of the MASL’s top, and most marketable, players.
6. Kraig Chiles – F (San Diego Sockers) The five-year extension Chiles signed with the Sockers has somehow expired already and the league’s longest-running scoring machine showed a lot of wear and tear last year, while scoring a career-low 22 goals. Now at 36, 410 goals into his spectacular career, Chiles may be signing his last contract, probably with the Sockers. Whoever signs him will hope that the early end to the season restores him to his usual 30-40 goal output.
7. Hugo Puentes – M (Monterrey Flash) After visa problems kept him from ever playing for the SeaWolves after Orlando signed him as a free agent last year, Puentes thrived in Monterrey. His point production dropped slightly from his output in El Paso, but he was a meaningful contributor on a top team, which is different than stacking points on a bad team with no system.
8. Jake Schindler – D (Utica City FC) The big defender made his first All-League appearance with a spot on the 2nd Team in his 9th season. The 32-year old also had a career high 10 goals and 19 points.
9. Damien Garcia – D (Monterrey Flash) Garcia missed a lot of time in 2019-20 and will turn 38 in September, but is still one of the top two way players in the MASL, heading into his 9th season.
10. Chad Vandegriffe – D (Milwaukee Wave) Signed with Florida 7/23/20 Vandegriffe headlines a list of Wave defenders who have all hit free agency at the same time. After seven years in the league, including four with the Wave, Vandegriffe is in a good place in his career at 30.
11. Angel Curiel – M (Milwaukee Wave) Re-signed with Milwaukee 7/1/20 Curiel’s three years with the Wave have been very successful and he became the first player signed in free agency this offseason, remaining in Milwaukee.
12. Jorge “Pareja” Rios – M (Monterrey Flash) Following a slow start in Monterrey after being traded from El Paso in 2018-19, Rios set career highs in assists (11) and points (35) in his first full season with the Flash. At 25 Rios is more than 10 years the junior of several of his teammates, making him a player the Flash can build around.
13. Daniel Chamale – D (Milwaukee Wave) The 27-year old Canadian had a rough year injury-wise and only managed one point in eight games, making it a near total washout, but he is a candidate for a big rebound this season.
14. Hector Vallejo – D (Monterrey Flash) Arguably the top defensive field player on the Flash, Vallejo has flown under the radar because of his workmanlike manner and lack of scoring (22 goals in eight seasons), but is a player’s player, who still gets it done at 38.
15. Edgar “Chapa” Flores – M (Monterrey Flash) Flores followed his assist-heavy year – seven goals and 23 assists in 2018-19 – with a goal-heavy year – 15 goals and nine assists – despite missing five games, and continues to be one of the top Flash offensive threats at 32.
16. Eduardo “Pollo” Cortes – GK (Mesquite Outlaws) Cortes came out of nowhere to claim the expansion Outlaws starting goalie spot, and then had one of the top rookie performances in the league, finishing 8th with a 5.50 GAA and very little offensive support.
17. Mitchell Cardenas -D (Mesquite Outlaws) Cardenas helped lead Mesquite to the top half of defensive teams, but didn’t replicate the personal or team success he experienced in McAllen in his rookie season. Still, the 29-year old second generation professional indoor player, would make a significant addition for any team.
18. Guilherme Veiga – D (Milwaukee Wave) The 36-year old tenacious defender with solid foot skills has managed to stay on the field for the better part of the last three seasons after missing significant time his first two years in Milwaukee.
19. Gustavo Rosales – M (Sonora Soles) Rosales helped turn a rag tag bunch of inexperienced indoor players into a team that was bound for a playoff spot before the shutdown. Now 39, Rosales missed significant time last year, but had his second best points per game average.
20. Carlos Pichardo – D (Monterrey Flash) Pichardo is in a similar boat as Vallejo. The 39-year old defender has scored 13 goals in nine seasons, including a career high four in 2019-20, but he is one of the league’s perennial shut down D-men.
21. VcMor Eligwe – F (Mesquite Outlaws) As disappointing as Mesquite’s first season was, no Outlaw’s season was as surprising as Eligwe’s. After ascending to the top of the league’s elite target men in 2018-19, Eligwe’s goal production dropped from 27 to 14 and he often lost physical battles that had been his trademark the prior two seasons. Look for a rebound this year.
22. Joey Kapinos – GK (Milwaukee Wave) We’ve seen it before, but last year underlined that Kapinos should be a starting goalkeeper somewhere in this league. Every team more or less has a starter already entrenched, but Kapinos is better than at least a handful of the incumbents.
23. Miguel Vaca – M (Monterrey Flash) Vaca will be 39 in October but he’s still a futbol rapido legend with undeniable foot skills. He chipped in 16 goals and 25 points in 22 games last year.
24. Ignacio “Nacho” Flores – D (Kansas City Comets) Re-signed with Kansas City 7/16/20 Flores is one of the top two-way players in the league, but has been one of the stalwart players who have survived the Comets transition through turmoil the last four seasons.
25. Kiel Williams – M (Kansas City Comets) Williams has steadily improved his offensive numbers throughout his five seasons with the Comets, culminating in a career high 15 goals and 24 points in 2019-20. At 31, he may still have some room to grow.
26. Carlos “Popper” Hernandez – M (Mesquite Outlaws) Popper never got popping last year thanks to visa issues, but he demonstrated his talent in 2018-19 with Rio Grande Valley.
27. Stefan Stokic – D (Kansas City Comets) Former Comets coach Vlatko Andonovski once called him one of his most indispensable players. Now 35, with 11 Comets seasons under his belt, Stokic would seem a likely candidate to finish out his career in Kansas City.
28. Anthony Powell – F (Mesquite Outlaws) Powell started fast and ended slow (three points in his last eight games), but he’s only 23 and made big strides in his second MASL season.
29. Lucio Gonzaga – M (Florida Tropics) Lucio has bounced around since leaving the Blast in 2015, but he keeps bringing it wherever he goes, whether it’s Harrisburg, Ontario, Utica, or Florida. He can play both ends of the field, control the tempo, and set the offense in motion. He would be 40 by the time his 13th season starts sometime this winter.
30. Uros Momic – F (Utica City FC) Momic was one of the top MASL rookies last year, and he immediately earned the playing time a seasoned vet his age (now 28) would get. The Serbian scored in his very first games and ended up with 13 goals in 18 games.