It was recently reported that the USL operated Major Indoor Soccer League is no more, due to 6 of the 7 teams departing to join the rival Professional Arena Soccer League, with the remaining league changing it’s name to Major Arena Soccer League, or MASL. With that, came the information that the 2014-2015 season will be contested by 24 teams, 6 from MISL, 16 returning PASL teams, one revived team in the Tacoma Stars, and one expansion club, the Brownsville Barracudas. Four PASL teams and one MISL team are presumed to have folded.
To set the stage for the first season of unified arena soccer, I’ll be documenting the history of the uniquely North American spin on the beautiful game, and the revolving door of leagues and teams. Today, here’s a brief summary of the 2013-2014 MISL season.
For older leagues, numbers will be used to describe which generation used that particular name. MISL1 will refer to the original, while MISL will refer to the current league.
Seven teams contested the season, featuring two new clubs. Two teams failed to return.
The Chicago Soul had a short history, playing only one season. They made the playoffs, but their early exit combined with only 1,565 average attendance and other financial woes meant that the Chicago market would be without MISL soccer for the 2013-2014 season.
The Wichita Wings were an attempted rebirth of the original Wings who played 22 years before folding in 2001. This team fared worse, managing only two seasons before declining attendance and a lack of playoff soccerm among other things, led to a swift demise.
The Baltimore Blast were founded in 1992 as the Baltimore Spirit. They were a constant presence in the old NPSL2, and after joining the MISL2 in 2001 won 4 championships in 6 years. They entered the season as reigning champions, having slaughtered the Missouri Comets 21-12 and 8-6 in the two game championship series. Coach Danny Kelly returned for yet another year. The team had an insane regular season, winning 17 of 20 games, scoring 309 points and allowing only 101, good for 1st overall and playoffs.
The Milwaukee Wave are, and have been, the oldest continuously operating pro soccer team in North America, having been founded in 1984. Across their long history spreading several leagues, they’ve managed to win 6 championships, having lost another 4 in the finals. Head coach Keith Tozer returned for his 22nd consecutive season at the reigns, leading the Wave to an impressive 16-4 record, good for 2nd overall and playoffs thanks to 324 points for, 203 against.
The Missouri Comets, founded in 2010, are named for the former Kansas City Comets of MISL1 fame. Coach Kim Røntved was fired to start the season after losing in the championship series, with Vlatko Andonovski hired as replacement. Missouri finished 14-6, in 3rd place with a league leading 329 points for, and 217 against.
The Rochester Lancers, also founded in 2010, hired Josh Rife as coach, after previous coach Jim Hesch led the team to a 10-16 record. Rife suffered an even worse first season, as the team went 6 and 14, with 216 points for and 280 against. They finished 5th, just out of the playoffs.
The Syracuse Silver Knights, founded in 2011, are the youngest of the returning teams. They kept original coach Tommy Tanner, who took them to their first playoff berth with a 12-8 record. That’s good for 4th overall, the final playoff berth.
The Pennsylvania Roar brought the indoor game to the town of Reading, but coach Eric Puls and his new team only managed to win 1 game. They only scored 105 points, while allowing a league high 375, and cemented their place at the bottom of the table early.
Fellow expansion side St. Louis Ambush didn’t fare much better, only winning 4 games. Player Odaine Sinclair did win rookie of the year, but with 186 points for and 348 against, could only manage 6th, just above the Roar.
Attendance wise, Rochester were top, despite no playoffs, with an average of 7,347.
Almost-undefeated Baltimore were second with 6,123 average.
St. Louis fans managed to look past their team’s on the field woes to the tune of 5,636 on average.
Milwaukee dipped slightly from the previous year, but still posted a respectable 4,906.
Missouri followed closely with another slight drop, managing 4,180.
Syracuse, despite their success on the field, could only average 2,869.
But poor Roar. Not only did they only win one game, but they had barely half of Syracuse’s attendance, with a dismal average of only 1,549.4 unanswered in the 2nd quarter
The playoffs began with Baltimore leveling Syracuse 20 to 7, and the Comets flattening the Wave 20 to 6.
Fortunes changed for the second game in both series, with Milwaukee winning 12 to 9 over Missouri, and Baltimore losing 6 to 9 against the Silver Knights.
That meant a 15 minute mini-game in both semifinal brackets.
In the first tie breaker, Missouri won 6 to 2, advancing over the Wave.
The second saw Baltimore win 4 to 3 despite a late game 3 point goal for Syracuse.
This meant Baltimore would face Missouri in the championship series.
Game 1 saw the Comets start and finish strong, scoring 6 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter.
Baltimore responded at home with a dominant 19 to 4 win, with 11 unanswered in the first half. This forced another 15 minute tiebreaker, with Missouri winning both the minigame and the championship 6 to 4, off a 14th minute goal.
It was Missouri’s first championship in the current team’s four year history.