Florida adds defensive depth

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Fla. (July 23, 2020) – For the second straight off-season, the Florida Tropics have signed a veteran defender from the Milwaukee Wave, this time adding Chad Vandegriffe to the team’s backline on a two-year free agent deal. Per league and team policies, no further details of the deal were disclosed.

Vandegriffe has played the last four years with the Wave, averaging almost a shot block a game (63 total), and adding 16 goals in 75 career games. He has had game-winning goals in each of the last two years as well.

Last off-season, the Tropics inked Wave defender Drew Ruggles, who went on this past year to become a Major Arena Soccer League first-team all-star and Defender of the Year. Florida posted an 18-3 mark – after winning just six games total in the 2018-19 season – and was named Eastern Conference champions after the MASL season came to an end in mid-March due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

“Chad is a veteran of the game who uses his size, smarts and skill masterfully on defense,” Coach Clay Roberts said. “He’s not quite as offensive minded as Drew, but he isn’t afraid to jump into a play when the situation is right. He will be a mainstay for us on the backline which is always the first point of emphasis for all our players.”

Vandegriffe played college soccer at Southern Methodist University and St. Louis University, and started his pro indoor career with the St. Louis Ambush in 2013-14 when he was named to the league’s all-rookie team. After three season with St. Louis, he signed with Milwaukee for the start of the 2016-17 campaign, and has been with the Wave since, including their championship season in 2018-19. In all, he has 127 arena games played so far in his career.

The 2020-21 MASL season will be the fifth for the Tropics at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. The season will kick off in late fall or early winter; for more information visit fltropics.com, or call 863-240-0101.