by Brian Ackley/Tropics

LAKELAND, FL – The Florida Tropics will meet the San Diego Sockers in the 2022 Ron Newman Cup Major Arena Soccer League championship series, which kicks off with Game One on Monday, May 2 at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.

It is the Tropics first trip to the championship series in their six years, while for San Diego, playing for a title is familiar territory. Kickoff on May 2 is set for 7:00 p.m. EDT.

Game Two of the series is set for Sunday, May 8 at Pechanga Arena in San Diego with the start of 5:05 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. If the team’s split those two games, a knockout game of 15 minutes will be played at the conclusion of Game Two to
determine the champion.

“They were No. 1 in the regular season and we were seeded No. 2 so it’s only appropriate that we will meet for the championship,” Florida Head Coach Clay Roberts said. “We like having the chance to kick it off in front of our home fans first, but we know just how disciplined, talented and experienced the Sockers are. We’ll need to be at our absolute best, but I expect nothing less from our team at this point of the season.”

The Sockers knocked Florida out of the 2020-21 MASL playoffs, and went on to win their 15th title in team history. The iconic indoor soccer franchise traces its roots all the way back to the 1970s and the Ron Newman Cup is named after the San Diego coach who won 10 of those championship starting with the crown at the end of the 1981-82 North
American Soccer League’s indoor season and concluding with a title in the Major Indoor Soccer League in 1991-92.

Those playoff games last season between the two teams came on a neutral site in Kansas City in March of 2021 because of the ongoing pandemic. The Sockers won the first game in overtime (5-4), and pulled out a one-goal win in Game Two (4-3) to end the Tropics title bid.

Florida and San Diego met just once in the regular season, an 11-4 win for the Sockers in San Diego. However, the Tropics had played the previous night in Ontario (a 6-3 win over the Fury), and the game against the Sockers was the fourth game over just a six day span, all on the road, an unprecedented stretch of games in such a short period of time.

Over the past six seasons, the teams have met a total of eight times in the regular season, with Florida winning just twice, including the inaugural game in the team’s history on Nov. 11, 2016. The Tropics rallied from a 4-1 fourth-quarter deficit to win 6-5 on a game-winning goal by Ricardo Diegues with just over 30 seconds to play.

Both the Tropics and San Diego needed to win Game Twos on their home turf, and the subsequent mini-games, to advance. Florida fell 8-7 in Kansas City to open their semi final series, but came home to score a 4-2 win in Game Two before taking the extra-time mini-game by the same 4-2 margin.

San Diego – which has not lost in regulation time this year after going 23-0-1 in the regular season – fell in overtime against the Chihuahua Savage 7-6 before coming home to take wins of 6-2 in Game Two and 4-1 in the knockout game.

Florida finished the regular season 18-3-2 and swept the St. Louis Ambush in two straight games in the quarterfinals. San Diego dispatched the Milwaukee Wave in two straight in their opening round series as well.

For more information, visit fltropics.com or maslsoccer.com.