MASL FINALIZES DIVISIONS AND CONFERENCES FOR 2016-17 SEASON
Seventeen teams will take the 2016-2017 MASL field as the league works to strengthen all existing markets for the future.
The Major Arena Soccer League has set the leagues conference and division lineup for the upcoming season as 17 teams will play in two conferences and four divisions for the 2016-17 season as the league looks to strengthen its base for the future. Teams will once again break into Eastern and Western Conferences, with two divisions in each conference.
We have placed our focus on increasing standards and working with the member organizations to improve their respective market situations, said MASL Commissioner Joshua Schaub. This setup will give us a league of great parody, further allow all teams to continue featuring their longstanding rivalries while also growing the MASLs prominence in North America.
The Western Conferences Pacific Division will be the Ontario Fury, San Diego Sockers, Tacoma Stars and Turlock Express. The Southwest Division will include Atletico Baja, Dallas Sidekicks, expansion El Paso Coyotes and defending conference champion Soles de Sonora.
The Eastern Conference will have the lone five-team division, with the Central Division featuring the Cedar Rapids Rampage, Chicago Mustangs, Milwaukee Wave, Kansas City Comets and St. Louis Ambush. The Eastern Division has the defending MASL Ron Newman Cup Champion Baltimore Blast, expansion Florida Tropics, Harrisburg Heat and Syracuse Silver Knights.
We feel these divisions will keep and grow the established rivalries in our league and establish geographic efficiencies, Schaub said. Ontario and Tacoma battled for the final Western playoff spot to the last game last season, and Syracuse nearly derailed the Blast on their road to the Ron Newman Cup last Spring, so it should continue to be an exciting season where the outcome of every game is in doubt.
With the leagues new focus, four teams have chosen to suspend operations for the 2016-17 season, while still maintaining their MASL membership. Brownsville, Detroit, Las Vegas and Saltillo, will sit out the upcoming season in an effort to improve operations and facilities with an eye towards returning the following season. The Monterrey franchise, which won the league title in 2014-15 before sitting out the 2015-16 season, has been granted a one-year extension on its MASL membership. The Sacramento Surge has ceased operations and its membership will be relocated with a destination to be announced in the near future.
Although it was a difficult decision for all of these teams to suspend operations, I commend them for taking a year to improve standards in order to take this league to the levels we believe it can reach, Schaub said. We will be working with these teams to improve their facility and business operations so that they can come back strong in the Fall of 2017.
The Major Arena Soccer League season will begin Oct. 29, with the regular season ending in early March. A full schedule and final playoff breakdown will be completed within the next week. For more information about the league, go to the leagues website at MASLSoccer.com.