Tropics add two players

by Brian Ackley

LAKELAND, Florida – The Florida Tropics have added two players from their sister franchise, the Lakeland Tropics. Per team and league policies, terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Caio Ruiz and Fernando Machado have inked deals to play with the professional arena team which will start its third season of play on SYKES Field at the RP Funding Center in early December. Per team and league policies, terms of the agreement will not be disclosed.

Machado, a defender, and Ruiz, a midfielder/defender, both played key roles for Lakeland's USL Premier Development League Tropics this past summer. The team finished third for the second straight year in the southeast division, losing out on a playoff spot on the final weekend of the regular season.

Machado played college collegiately at Oklahoma Wesleyan University, a soccer power in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and had two goals while playing with the Midland/Odessa Sockers FC in the PDL during the 2016 saeason.

Ruiz also is a product of the Oklahoma Wesleyan program, and scored a goal against IMG Academy Bradenton in a 3-1 home win for Lakeland this season. In 2017 he played for the OKC Energy U23 side in the PD where he was among the team leader in minutes played, as he was for the Tropics in 2018.

“Both players come from a strong collegiate and development background, and have been impressed with both of then, in their skills and worth ethic,” Florida Tropics Coach Clay Roberts noted. “We are happy to keep them in the Tropics family and look forward to them playing important roles in our organization's future.”

The Florida Tropics have finished third in each of their first two season in the MASL, improving from eight wins in their inaugural season to 10 wins a season ago. Florida will play a 24-game home and away schedule that will run from December to March. A full season schedule will be released this fall. For more information, go to