With the Grey Cup now past my football watching goes into hibernation until the Canadian Football League starts up again next June.
That would seem to open my calendar a bit to do some reading, or other activity not tied to a television watching sports, but that is really not the case.
In fact as my better half was no doubt snoring peacefully under the covers late Saturday evening I was connecting a laptop to the television and launching www.maslsoccer.com/masltv in order to watch the debut game of the Mississauga Metrostars.
Now I am aware I may be the only person in the city to have tuned into the game, but that is why I am writing about it, because the team deserves a look by anyone who self identifies as a sports fan.
The Metrostars are an expansion franchise in the Major Arena Soccer League, and the first team in Canada, at least in terms of this incarnation of the league.
Now I am sure a few of you that know me are smirking that I am admitting to watching soccer, but the arena version has more in common with hockey in terms of its attack and defence schemes, and its scoring, than it does with the outdoor ‘snoozefest’ version of the game.
Confined to a hockey ice-sized floor, and the ball being live off the boards arena soccer is fast-paced, and much to the delight of this fan, they actually score goals more often that a February 29th birthday rolls around.
I turned onto the MASL after catching the story of pending Canadian expansion a year or so ago. I tuned into a Milwaukee Wave game, and became a fan when I learned four key players on the roster were Canadian including league superstar Ian Bennett.
This year my allegiance is shifting north to the Metrostars, although I will be keeping an eye on the Wave. That is likely to change moving forward as further Canadian expansions is anticipated and I’ll be preoccupied watching the game grow here, rather than catching Wave games in the future.
As for the Metrostars first effort, it went about as expected when you consider they were on the road to face the three-time defending MASL champion Baltimore Blast. The Blast are perennially a powerhouse, and are aided by having the smallest playing surface in the league, which frankly the league should not allow. The surface is like the National Basketball Association allowing one team to play on a three-quarters court. There is an obvious advantage for the home side Blast, and actually detracts from the indoor game in my opinion.
So in the end the Metrostars got hammered 11-3.
Not surprisingly though two of the goals for Mississauga came from Dwayne De Rosario. While now 40, De Rosario has a rather extensive soccer resume. He came to prominence in the 2000s playing in Major League Soccer for the San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo, Toronto FC, New York Red Bulls and D.C. United. A four-time MLS Cup champion, he also won the 2011 MLS Most Valuable Player award. He is the seventh-leading scorer in MLS history with 104 goals, details Wikipedia.
Internationally, De Rosario represented the Canadian national team from 1998 to 2015 where he is their all-time leading scorer, with 22 goals in 81 games.
How a 40-year-old stands up to a long season may be a question mark, but he will score some goals, and gives the Metrostars some ‘star profile’.
While expansion teams generally struggle, the Las Vegas Golden Knights an anomaly for varying reasons, the Metrostars are still going to be fun to watch. They play their first home game Saturday against the Florida Tropics at 3 EST. The game can be seen at www.maslsoccer.com.