MASL: The Fastest Game on Carpet


Don’t Blink. Don’t think. Because if you do, you will miss the ball whip by you.

I am talking about The Fastest Game on Carpet. I am referring to the top professional indoor soccer league in North America, Major Arena Soccer League (MASL).

The MASL formed in 2014 after the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) and the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL) decided to merge and become the premier indoor professional soccer league in North America.

 

800px-san_diego_sockers_at_dallas_sidekicks_-_27_january_2013

.Image credit: San Diego Sockers Vs. Dallas Sidekicks. By Dravecky via Wikicommons Some Rights Reserved under the Creative Commons.

 

With 17 active teams across the United States, and in Mexico, MASL is slowing gaining a following. Teams include Atletico Baja in Tijuana, Mexico (A roof covered outdoor venue with 200 seats, resembling the FIFA Street video game series), plus the Turlock Express (their arena looks like something out of an Area 51 hanger). However, most teams play in a traditional hockey arena, with carpet over a hockey rink. The MASL is slowly finding its niche within the North American sporting market.

Played in four 15 minute quarters, indoor soccer is fast. Each team has six a side, (five players, one goalkeeper). The goalkeeper can be a part of the attacking play if their team is down and needs an extra attacker. Indoor soccer allows for unlimited substitutions. Instead of yellow cards given for two-foot challenges, spitting, and other nasty minor occurrences, players are given a blue card and sent for a two-minute penalty.

Unlike outdoor soccer, which many say is dull and boring, indoor soccer is played at a rapid pace. It’s not uncommon to see games with 18-15, 10-9 score lines weekly. Players can bounce the ball off the boards, creating a whole new dynamic not seen in traditional soccer. Goalkeepers literally cannot blink. When players are shooting the ball at 80 miles per hour, goalkeepers must have laser focus, and strong hands to keep the ball out of the net. It’s what makes indoor soccer a refreshing alternative to outdoor soccer. It takes the best of both traditional footie, along with the fast-paced excitement of ice hockey.

While the MASL does not have the huge financial capabilities of other major North American sports leagues, its players give it a league with character.

Kraig Chiles is one of the MASL’s star players for the San Diego Sockers. Chiles had originally played five games for one season as part of Major League Soccer’s Chivas USA in 2008. He was released in 2009, and dabbled with the USL Premier Development’s Los Angeles Legends. However, it was in 2010 when his soccer career began to click. Chiles has won several league awards with the Sockers. He also recently scored his 300th goal for the club and became the club’s all-time leading scorer.

The Turlock Express Ivan Campos is one of their top players and provides a significant presence (literally) on the team. Campos came back to the Express this season after playing in Las Vegas and Detroit for four seasons. A knack for hitting the net, and sound indoor soccer abilities, Campos is beast on a team which has a small but loyal following of 700 fans every game at the Turlock Soccer Center.

While the MASL may not be the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, or MLS, it’s got something to offer a diverse sporting fan base as The Fastest Game on Carpet.

If you don’t believe me that the MASL is The Fastest Game on Carpet, then check out some of the best games which showcase this league so far this season.

Have you seen an indoor soccer game? What do you like about indoor soccer compared to traditional soccer? What do you like about the MASL? Please let me know by leaving a comment below.

 

 

 

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2013 MLS Schedule Out: Early Thoughts


LA Galaxy Vs. Houston Dynamo in 2011 MLS Cup via The Daily Herald (Flickr) Some Rights Reserved

LA Galaxy Vs. Houston Dynamo in 2011 MLS Cup via The Daily Herald (Flickr) Some Rights Reserved

Earlier this week, Major League Soccer released their 2013 schedule, which will be the earliest start and latest end since its inception in 1996. The first game is set for March 2nd, with MLS Cup staged on December 7th. Regardless another sign is around the corner (although you could not tell that with the weather outside).

Here is some key games to watch out for:

March 2nd: Vancouver Whitecaps hosts Toronto FC in an all Canadian Derby; Seattle Sounders hosts the Montreal Impact.

March 3rd: 2012 MLS Cup Champions LA Galaxy battles the Chicago Fire.

Also that same day, in a rematch of the Eastern Conference final, Houston Dynamo hosts DC United.

March 16th: Montreal Impact hosts Toronto FC.

March 17th: the first MLS superclassico between Los Angeles rivals the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA.

May 5th: Rematch of the MLS Cup between Los Angeles Galaxy against the Houston Dynamo.

October 27th: Last Regular season game on the Schedule between Seattle Sounders and LA Galaxy from Seattle.

In total, 87 nationally broadcast games will hit the airwaves in the US on ESPN, NBC/NBC Sports Network, Univision and UniMas.

A minimum of thirty games in Canada will go on TSN/TSN2 and RDS. No television schedule has been released for Canadian fans.

However, MLS Live, which streams almost all the games live, for around $60.00 U.S. is a sweet deal if you are looking to see the best up and coming major professional sports league has to offer. I recommend it!

Now, here is some early predictions I feel will happen this year:

Two out of the three Canadian teams will make it to the playoffs, with Vancouver the best bet.

Chris Wondolowski will not get as many goals as last year.

Expect at least one MLS expansion announcement (one to New York), possibly another (my gut tells me somewhere in the mid-west US), and a moving of a franchise (Chivas USA to San Diego).

The Houston Dynamo and LA Galaxy will make the playoffs, but will not face off again in the MLS Cup. My wild prediction says one of the Chicago Fire/DC United from the Eastern Conference against either Seattle Sounders/Real Salt Lake from the Western Conference for MLS Cup Final December 7th.

Most improved teams: New England, Montreal Impact, Toronto FC, Portland Timbers, Chivas USA,

Most disappointing teams: New York Red Bulls, Los Angeles Galaxy, San Jose Earthquakes, Sporting Kansas City.

First Coach to get fired: Tough call. Bruce Arena of the LA Galaxy is the most under the gun.

Announcer to watch out for: Arlo White: NBC Sports Network. I must say at the beginning of last season when NBC Sports Network took over, I had low expectations for them considering they did not have my favorite North American soccer announcer JP Dellacamera. However, by season’s end his announcing style has won me over. A former BBC soccer broadcaster, White’s enthusiasm, talent and knowledge of the “Beautiful Game” this side of the Atlantic is making him the “Joe Buck” of North American soccer.

So there is my early thoughts. I am going to put this out to you folks there in Johnston Nation. Which predictions are the most realistic?

Drop me a line on the comments or at adamjwpg@mymts.net

Thanks.

My Soccer Wish List For 2013


With 2012 almost done in the books, its time to look forward to 2013. There were some many great moments in the world of soccer this year. Will 2013 provide great memories also? In no particular order, here is my wish list for 2013:

1. A spectacular 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup: With the 2014 FIFA World Cup just under one and a half years away, time will be of the essence for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil in June 2013. Slowly becoming a premier fixture on the world footie calendar, with only the champions of each confederation participating, this tournament will be a “mini-World Cup”, providing the appetizers before the main event next year. Teams like Brazil, Italy, Spain, and Uruguay can deliver high quality performances. Hope it is an all South American final. Mind you, the last two times Brazil has won the Confederations Cup (2005, 2009), European teams the next year have won the main prize.

2. Europe League Champions get an automatic spot in the UEFA Champions League: Ok, so I know this likely will not happen. But here would be a really good idea: The winner of the UEFA Europa League would get a spot (either automatic group stage or qualifying round spot) into Europe’s most prestigious club competition: the UEFA Champions league. Sure, the Europa League may not have the quality of the Champions League. However, it would create more interest in the Europa League. Hey, South America does it with the Copa Sudamericana, the continents secondary competition to the Copa Libertadores.

3. MLS Continues to Grow in North America: With 19 teams, Major League Soccer continues to grow. With the demographics of North America changing, and other sports leagues in disarray, now seems ripe for the “Beautiful Game” to continue its upward trend. Consider attendance for the league was up just over 5% over the previous year, along with the NBC Sports Network’s new deal with the league added more viewers, compared to Fox Soccer in 2011. Plus, 2012 MLS Cup viewership was up overall in the US between ESPN and Spanish-speaking broadcaster Telefutura. However, some concerns do remain with MLS including: ESPN’s viewership in MLS Cup falling by 1%, Toronto FC attendance falling should raise the ire of Don Garber. Still, if these issues can be overcome, and if Commissioner Don Garber has some gusto, and puts the Cosmos back in New York, and at least two other teams (1 in the US mid-west and one in the West), then MLS can start to give others a run for their money in the North American sports market.

4. Canada to surprise in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. I am not asking much for the Canadian men’s national team after their 8-1 thump down by Honduras after the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier last October, which sent them packing, but a good showing for our boys could restore faith in the long road back from perdition.

5. Resolve the Canadian TV situation with Spain`s La Liga and Italian Serie A: I can not stand this anymore. The two top leagues in the world not on Canadian TV after BeIN(owned by Al-Jazeera) bought out the North American television rights for both leagues. Canadian soccer fans have been left behind at the alter, yet again. Either Corus, MLSE(which partially owns Gol TV and owns TSN), Rogers better get off their bloody duff and get the televised rights for both leagues, or Al-Jazeera better nag the CRTC to give them a licence for BeIN in Canada. Canadian soccer fans are sick and tired of it and it has to end NOW!!!!!

6. An international club friendly between two top clubs at Investors Group Field in the Summer of 2013: As a Winnipegger, I hope the Board of Directors at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers football club (grid iron – Canadian Football League) will book a date for an international friendly between two well-known international soccer clubs. Would love to see even an MLS team go up against a Latin American club or Euro based team next summer. Doubt it will happen, but weirder things have happened.

That is my wish list. I hope all soccer fans have a great holiday season and a wonderful 2013.

2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Roundup: Oh Canada, Whoa USA, and Italy’s Euro 2012 Hangover


A full slate of games were on tap across the globe as 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying started up again after the summer. Now while qualifying for CONCACAF has been going on since last summer, This weekend sees UEFA join the fold. And after today, there was some cracking shockers. Here are some off the results:

Photo Source: Canada.com

Canada 1- Panama 0

Dwayne DeRosario scored in the 77th minute at BMO field in Toronto, Ontario as Canada, ranked 73rd in the world, knocked off 50th ranked Panama.

Canada, who last qualified for a FIFA World Cup in 1986, when I was in Kindergarten, may actually have a legitimate shot of making out of the group, and getting into the final round of CONCACAF (or sometimes I call it CONCACRAP) 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying.

Here is hoping they somehow qualify. I would trade in a heartbeat the men’s Olympic hockey team winning the 2014 Winter Olympic hockey gold medal to see our Canadian men’s national team have the HONOR of playing in the greatest soccer tournament on the planet in 2014. I can only hope and dream of celebrating at Portage and Main in the fall of 2013 when they qualify!!!

Canada now sits on top of the group C with seven points, one ahead of Panama with six. The top two teams from each group qualify for the final round of CONCACAF World 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying starting early in 2013.

Photo Source: ESPN Soccernet

Jamaica 1- USA 0

Meanwhile, The USA, already stinging after not qualifying for the men’s Olympic tournament, was bounced by Jamaica, 1-0. WOW! Shocking result. While it’s likely the USA will probably get out of this group,  nothing is certain, not even a hard-core Winnipeg winter anymore.

Photo Source: SB Nation

Colombia 4- Uruguay 0

The biggest thumping award of the day goes to Colombia, who thumped Uruguay 4-0 in South American World Cup qualifying.  Not good for the 2011 Copa America champions. Where is Diego Forlan when you need him???!!! Uruguay is in fourth in South American qualifying. Colombia is in fifth. Argentina leads the group.

Photo Source: Sportsnet.ca

Bulgaria 2- Italy 2

And lastly, the Italians are suffering some Euro 2012 hangover from their surprise second place finish after a disappointing result against Bulgaria, a 2-2 draw.