by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. – One of the most dangerous target forwards over the past eight years in the Major Arena Soccer League will be joining the Florida Tropics on a two-year deal to start the 2022-23 season. Vini Dantas, who played most of those years with the Baltimore Blast, has signed as a free-agent. Per league and team policy, no further details of the deal are being released.

Dantas started his career in the 2014-15 season – when he earned All MASL Rookie Team honors – and was an immediate offensive force, scoring 16 goals in 15 games. Since that time, he has gone on to score 194 goals and add 93 assists in 156 career regular season and playoff games.

“To have Vini and his championship experience, and to add him into our lineup, is pretty intimidating I think as far as our target play goes,” Coach Clay Roberts said., who added that Dantas is much more than just a goal scorer. “He knows how to win. He understands five-players behind the ball is how you win. For him to play the defense he does speaks to his overall approach and importance to the team.”

A physical presence at 6’-1” and 200 pounds, the 32-year old native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, had his best season in 2019-20 when he banged home 37 goals and added 17 assists in 22 games. He was traded to the Tacoma Stars prior to the start of the 2020-21 season, and was traded back to the Blast with just three games remaining in the 2021-22 campaign.

“Florida and I have been trying to make this work for some time now and I’m extremely excited to join the team,” Dantas said. “They, for the past few years, have been at the top of the league and I hope to help them keep that going. I have many friends that play there and it will be fun to play with them.”

He was a key part of Baltimore’s three-straight MASL championships between 2017-2019, and was the 2017 Most Valuable Player in the playoffs, getting the game-winning goal in the finals against Sonora. He ended that post season with 18 total points (nine goals and nine assists) in nine games.

The Tropics – who advanced for the first-time in team history to the MASL championship finals last spring – will start their seventh season in the league this fall at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. For more information, visit www.fltropics.com.