You may member an indoor soccer team called the Phoenix Monsoon (the one that listed me as its play-by-play announcer despite not actually, you know, consummating a deal with me). This was its maiden season in the PASL, and they had big plans for it. Well, the original owner was out before Christmas and the new owners have changed the name of the team to the Arizona Storm.
“Storm” may be the single most-used name for a soccer team ever. Just off the top of my head, I remember the St. Louis Storm, the Memphis Storm, the Chicago Storm and now the Arizona Storm indoors and the New Orleans Storm, Seattle Storm and Sacramento Storm outdoors. I’m sure there have been others.
Oh, and after winning their first game ever, they’ve lost their last nine and are now on their third home field since Halloween. Surely, things are trending upward.
I have to admit, I kinda like it. Rather than try to represent an actual monsoon or use a wordmark, they’ve stylized the bird that gave Phoenix its name. “Monsoon” isn’t the greatest name in the history of sport, but at least it’s unique and relevant to the area (something not a lot of people realize). And the logo at least appears to have been professionally designed, something you can’t say about every PASL team.
The Monsoon has announced its home opener (presumably at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum) will be on Saturday, November 12, but the rest of the schedule will depend on which teams return or are added to the PASL-Pro over the course of the spring and summer.
Congratulations to the Milwaukee Wave, who last night beat the Baltimore Blast 16-7 to claim the 2010-2011 Major Indoor Soccer League championship. Since 2000, the Blast and Wave have combined to win nine of the twelve championships, with only Philadelphia (twice) and Monterrey (last year) crashing the party in this particular league (which has played under various names).
Championships Overall: San Diego (10), Baltimore (6), Milwaukee (5), Canton (5), Dallas (4), New York (4), Monterrey (4), Cleveland (3), Kansas City (2), Philadelphia (2), St. Louis (1), Louisville (1), Detroit Rockers (1), Chicago (1), Detroit Ignition (1), Seattle (1), Las Vegas (1), Sacramento (1), Edmonton (1), Tampa Bay (1)
2011 – Milwaukee Wave (d. Baltimore 16-7 in one-game final)
2010 – Monterrey La Raza (d. Milwaukee 12-6 in one-game final) NISL
2009 – Baltimore Blast (d. Rockford Rampage 13-10 in one-game final) MISL II
2008 – Baltimore Blast (d. Monterrey La Raza 14-11 in one-game final)
2007 – Philadelphia KiXX (d. Detroit Ignition 13-8 in one-game final)
2006 – Baltimore Blast (d. St. Louis Steamers in golden goal after split of two-game series)
2005 – Milwaukee Wave (d. Cleveland Force 2 games to 0)
2004 – Baltimore Blast (d. Milwaukee Wave 3 games to 0)
2003 – Baltimore Blast (d. Milwaukee Wave 2 games to 1)
2002 – Philadelphia Kixx (d. Milwaukee Wav 2 games to 1) NPSL
2001 – Milwaukee Wave (d. Philadelphia KiXX 3 games to 0)
2000 – Milwaukee Wave (d. Cleveland Crunch 3 games to 2)
1999 – Cleveland Crunch (d. St. Louis Ambush 3 games to 2)
1998 – Milwaukee Wave (d. St. Louis Ambush 4 games to 1)
1997 – Kansas City Attack (d. Cleveland Crunch 4 games to 0)
1996 – Cleveland Crunch (d. Kansas City Attack 4 games to 2)
1995 – St. Louis Ambush (d. Harrisburg Heat 4 games to 0)
1994 – Cleveland Crunch (d. St. Louis Ambush 3 games to 1)
1993 – Kansas City Attack (d. Cleveland Crunch 3 games to 2)
1992 – Detroit Rockers (d. Canton Invaders 3 games to 2)
1991 – Chicago Power (d. Dayton Dynamo 3 games to 0) AISA
1990 – Canton Invaders (d. Dayton Dynamo 3 games to 1)
1989 – Canton Invaders (d. Chicago Power 3 games to 2)
1988 – Canton Invaders (won Challenge Cup)
1987 – Louisville Thunder (d. Canton Invaders 3 games to 2)
1986 – Canton Invaders (d. Louisville Thunder 3 games to 0)
1985 – Canton Invaders (d. Louisville Thunder 3 games to 1)
2009 – Detroit Ignition (won regular season, no playoffs)
1997 – Seattle SeaDogs (d. Houston Hotshots 2 games to 0)
1996 – Monterrey La Raza (d. Houston Hotshots 2 games to 0)
1995 – Monterrey La Raza (d. Sacramento Knights 2 games to 1)
1994 – Las Vegas Dustdevils (d. Dallas Sidekicks 2 games to 1)
1993 – Dallas Sidekicks (d. San Diego Sockers 2 games to 1)
2001 – Dallas Sidekicks (d. San Diego Sockers 2 games to 1)
2000 – Monterrey La Raza (d. Dallas Sidekicks 6-5 in one-game final)
1999 – Sacramento Knights (d. Dallas Sidekicks 7-6 in one-game final) PSA
1998 – Dallas Sidekicks (d. Sacramento Knights 6-2 in one-game final)
1984 – San Diego Sockers (d. New York Cosmos 3 games to 0)
1983 – No season
1982 – San Diego Sockers (d. Tampa Bay Rowdies 2 games to 0)
1981 – Edmonton Drillers (d. Chicago Sting 2 games to 0)
1980 – Tampa Bay Rowdies (d. Memphis Rogues 2 games to 1)
1992 – San Diego Sockers (d. Dallas Sidekicks 4 games to 2)
1991 – San Diego Sockers (d. Cleveland Crunch 4 games to 2)
1990 – San Diego Sockers (d. Baltimore Blast 4 games to 2)
1989 – San Diego Sockers (d. Baltimore Blast 4 games to 3)
1988 – San Diego Sockers (d. Cleveland Force 4 games to 0)
1987 – Dallas Sidekicks (d. Tacoma Stars 4 games to 3)
1986 – San Diego Sockers (d. Minnesota Strikers 4 games to 3)
1985 – San Diego Sockers (d. Baltimore Blast 4 games to 1)
1984 – Baltimore Blast (d. St. Louis Steamers 4 games to 1)
1983 – San Diego Sockers (d. Baltimore Blast 3 games to 2)
1982 – New York Arrows (d. St. Louis Steamers 3 games to 2)
1981 – New York Arrows (d. St. Louis Steamers 6-5 in one-game final)
1980 – New York Arrows (d. Hou.Summit Soccer 7-4 in one-game final)
1979 – New York Arrows (d. Philadelphia Fever 2 games to 0)
San Diego’s also won the last two PASL-Pro titles, giving them 12 overall.
So what’s next? Wichita is joining the MISL next year, while Chicago hopes to find owners to take over their team, which was league-financed this year. The usual cast of supposed expansion/reactivation teams is still being talked about, and some may come to fruition. The dream of a 10 to 12 team league may be far-fetched for 2011-2012, but any signs of progress would be good.
Meanwhile, the PASL-Pro is still hanging in there, looking at its fourth season this fall (including a new team in Phoenix) with an economic model that at least gives teams a chance to not lose quite so much money. They’re not paying their players much and not drawing a ton of fans, but not many indoor teams are, these days.
Still, a unified structure, with everyone sublimating their own egos for the good of the game, is the only long-term solution, it says here. Whether that’s one very big league or one umbrella organization with different levels beneath it remains to be seen. But they haven’t killed indoor soccer yet. Maybe they never will. It won’t be for lack of trying.
Professional indoor soccer will return to the Valley of the Sun this fall. Eleven years after the Arizona Thunder last played in the World Indoor Soccer League, the Phoenix Monsoon intends to be a part of the Professional Arena Soccer League in the 2011-2012 season, its founder says.
The nascent team had previously announced its intention to apply for membership in the Major Indoor Soccer League, but the PASL – with its much smaller budgets and teams within reasonable travel distance – seems to be a much more prudent step for now.
Many of you may not know this (I didn’t before I moved here), but we do have monsoons here in Arizona. The monsoon (officially June 15 to September 30) is my favorite part of the summer because it’s about the only time we get rain and slightly more humidity, which keeps the actual air temperatures down a bit. It actually – at night, at least – sometimes feels a bit like my home state of Florida.
I’m efforting getting Monsoon head man Stu Starkey to sit for another interview and I’ll bring it to you if that happens.
Also, before you ask, yes, I think so. If they’re going to play and I’m here, why not? Let’s just say discussions have been going on for a bit and will no doubt continue. Where they’ll lead, I don’t know. But I’m in, I figure.
(As for the Pachuca lovelies above…the Monsoon plans to play outdoors as well and has a partnership with the Mexican club. What that entails, I couldn’t tell you, but they’re lovely, so why not?)
Both the ASA and the I-League folks talk about economic models that make sense – to which I say, “If there was an economic model for indoor soccer that made sense, don’t you think someone would have discovered it sometime in the last 30 years?”
But not everybody can do that. They can talk about regional play and bus trips and reasonable salaries and all that’s fine. That should keep the losses from being grotesque.
But this isn’t going to be easy. This is a tough sport to sell under the best of conditions. The I-League may turn out to be a developmental league for the MISL, which is one way to go about it. But will folks in Rochester and Syracuse and Hampton Roads out turn out to see “tomorrow’s indoor soccer stars today?” I doubt it.
Some have suggested futsal as an alternative, but I don’t see that ever being a viable spectator sport (slogan: “Like Outdoor Soccer, But Without The Excitement!”). Futsal is what baseball would be if all you could ever hit was singles. You think indoor soccer with walls has trouble drawing a crowd? Try selling futsal to the masses in today’s crowded sportainment environment. No chance.
The other day, I was talking with a longtime soccer exec who I respect greatly, and he opined that indoor soccer is the cockroach of sports. You just can’t kill it. Even if one or all three of these leagues die, the sport won’t die. There will always be someone, somewhere, who thinks he can put together five or six teams and have a league. There are a certain number of players you’ll always be able to find. There’s a certain fanbase you can attract, and they’ll be there most of the time.
But as far as growing and creating a bigtime, healthy sport, one that (believe it or not) once had well-known sportswriters say “I’m more than ever convinced that if soccer is to make it big in the U.S., it will have to be the indoor brand, where scoring action is furiously suited to American taste3,” I don’t see it happening.
1 – Chicago Sting owner Lee Stern said that. In 1983.
2 – The Baltimore Blast have been the kings of indoor, winning league championships in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009 in their most-recent incarnation, and in 1984 in the original MISL.
3 – Dick Young, New York Daily News, 1980.
These are from the PASL-Pro, a young league still trying to make inroads. They have the (once again) reincarnated San Diego Sockers, as well as the California Cougars, who you may remember as an MISL expansion team from a few years back.
Prince George Fury
San Diego Sockers
1790 Cincinnati Express
St. Louis Illusion
*1 game missing
#2 games missing
@4 games missing
Credit to the PASL-Pro for making it to their second season and continuing to forge ahead. It’s not like anyone in indoor soccer can crow about the state of their league these days.