Tropics announce signings for upcoming season
The Florida Tropics have signed former standouts from the United Soccer League and North American Soccer League, including one of the star players from the United Soccer League's Orlando City championship teams before they joined Major League Soccer.
Goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo and defender Rafael Alves are expected to joint the team for their second season in the Major Arena Soccer League which kicks off in November, pending league approval and visa approval.
Gallardo was the first-ever player signed by the North American Soccer League Jacksonville Armada in 2014, after a spectacular career for Orlando City which included a championship in 2011 when he was named Goalkeeper of the Year in the USL. He also backstopped Orlando City to a league title in 2013, and Commissioner Cup championships in three straight years from 2011-13. He started 51 times for Orlando, and had 27 clean sheets. He sports a career goals against average of a minuscule .073. He is noted for, among other things, his exceptional play with his feet, a very important skill for netminders in the arena game.
In 2008, he played in the USL's Premier Development League for the Austin Aztek, where he was named Fan Pro Player of the Year. The 32-year old native of Mexico currently serves as a community ambassador and broadcaster for Orlando City SC in Major League Soccer.
Alves will join the arena team after four strong years in the North American Soccer League, and most recently as a defender for Juventude, a second-division (Serie B) club in Brazil which has also played in past years in Serie A, the country's top league.
He appeared in 67 NASL games from 2013-2016, including 35 for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and 32 for the Ottawa Fury. His best offensive season came in 2015 with Ottawa where he had four goals and two assists. He also earned Player of the Week honors that season as the Fury won the NASL fall championship.
“These are two highly skilled, experienced, athletic players that can make an immediate impact on our success in the coming season,” Head Coach Clay Roberts said. “One of the major things we wanted to accomplish this offseason was significantly improve our overall depth and talent level, and both Miguel and Rafa were exactly the type of players we were looking for to do just that.”
The Tropics will open their second season in the Major Arena Soccer League this November at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. Florida will play a 22-game regular season, with 11 home games and 11 on the road. A full schedule will be released later this summer.