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MetroStars Q&A: All your arena soccer questions answered

Answering your MetroStars/arena soccer questions!

Mississauga MetroStars/ Used With Permission

The Mississauga MetroStars are now at the halfway point of their inaugural Major Arena Soccer League season, so I decided to host a Mississauga MetroStars/ arena soccer Q and A on Twitter.

Thanks for asking some great questions! If you ever have any more, send them to me on Twitter, or leave them in the comment section below any of my articles.

Now, into the questions!

The full Mississauga MetroStars schedule can be found here. Their next game is at home this Friday, February 15th, against the three-time reigning champion Baltimore Blast.

As for parking at the games, there is a ton of parking on both sides of the arena.

At the moment, there is still no way to buy MetroStars merchandise, so your best chance to get any gear is to win it by playing a game on the big screen during an intermission, or hoping for a promotion night where they give away something.

Arena soccer is played by teams of five outfield players and one goalkeeper. Typically, the goalkeeper is good with both his hands and feet, so he can essentially act as a 6th player when the team is attacking, and he is much more involved in the match than your regular goalie.

In arena soccer, the pitch is exactly the same size as an ice hockey rick, so the walls are used, as well as the glass behind the nets. The glass on the sides is removed, so the ball does regularly leave the playing surface.

Also - Vince McMahon at an arena soccer game would be awesome.

In my opinion, the greatest thing about arena soccer is the fast pace. Teams can go from a goal up to a goal down in a matter of seconds, something that the MetroStars learned the hard way on January 11th against Utica City FC, conceding twice in the final 40 seconds. Arena soccer players show off a lot more skills and tricks than regular soccer, making it an exciting game to watch, so I think the team, and the whole sport in general should be marketing themselves with that in mind.

With the MetroStars bringing in a bunch of former Toronto FC players, fans are watching games to see how those players will perform in a new setting. Having Dwayne De Rosario, one of the best Canadian footballers of all time, on their roster is attracting a lot of fans, and the same can be said about Landon Donovan, one of the best American players of all time, who recently signed for the team out in San Diego.

The way I often describe the sport to someone who is used to regular soccer, is that it is sort of a mixture of soccer and ice hockey.

It is like soccer in the sense that the objective is to score more goals than your opposition, and there are penalties, corners and free kicks. It is similar to ice hockey in the sense that there are boards around the pitch, which are often used to pass the ball to a teammate or oneself. The players rotate on short shifts, usually just a minute or two, to keep themselves fresh. One of the biggest noticeable differences is the use of blue cards. Blue cards are given for fouls such as contact above the shoulder, and result a two minutes visit to the penalty box, like in ice hockey. Yellow and red cards can also be given for more serious infractions or for repeating an offense.

The MetroStars held tryouts before the season started, where players battled it out for the few roster spots that were not already filled. The majority of their roster are members of the Canadian national arena soccer squad, who MetroStars head coach Phil Ionadi is the general manager for.

There are also two new leagues in Mississauga, the Arena Premier League and the Youth Arena Premier League, both of which were created to grow the sport in Canada and develop players for the MetroStars. As the season has gone on, they have dipped into the APL player pool whenever they are dealing with injuries or other absences.

The MASL, in its current form, has been around since 2008, originally named the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL). It was a professional version of the PASL-Premier, an amateur indoor league, and eventually became the Major Arena Soccer League after a series of splits and mergers with the MISL, the Major Indoor Soccer League.

The average attendance for the entire league so far this season is 2,211 fans per game. The MetroStars currently sit at just over 1,000 fans per game (1,001 to be exact - 6006 fans through 6 games), leaving them 15th out of 17 teams.

There have been a few players for the MetroStars that have stood out so far, but if I had to pick one it would have to be Mo Babouli. The former Toronto FC player has been incredible so far, scoring 18 points in 11 matches. He leads the team with 12 goals, but is one point back of Damion Graham.

Mo has shown off some slippery tricks and his dribbling ability alone is enough to get around an entire team, as he did against Kansas City a few weeks ago. Pairing that ability with a cannon of a right foot makes him Mississauga’s best attacking threat.

Although nobody on the MetroStars has signed a contract with a Canadian Premier League side yet, I think it is inevitable that a couple of the former outdoor players end up in the CPL, or in League 1 Ontario.

I think the most likely player to sign in the Canadian Premier League is Mo Babouli. Formerly of Toronto FC, Babouli has shown off his speed, dribbling ability and hard shot, impressing fans, coaches and teammates.

Goalkeeper Adrian Becic was with the Oakville Blue Devils in League 1 Ontario before joining the MetroStars, forward Massimo Mirabelli is under contract with Vaughn Azzurri, and David Valestegui is with Sigma FC.

There are about 3 weeks between the end of the MASL regular season and the first Canadian Premier League games, which would be enough time for players to sign a contract and integrate with their new team, but only time will tell if anyone gets signed.

Most MASL players are on one-year deals, and sign one year extensions if they want to stick around. There are cases of multi-year contracts being signed, but as far as I’m aware, that’s unusual. The MASL has a league-wide policy that the terms of the contracts are not to be revealed, so I can’t speak with 100% certainty with regards to contracts and roster rules, but this article in the Toronto Star says that the team’s payroll, including bonuses, is approximately $500,000.

Landon Donovan has just joined the San Diego Sockers and according to ESPN will make $250,000 (over 19,000 per game) to play their final 13 games of the season, but you can be sure that nobody on the MetroStars is making that kind of money, especially not for half a season.

See above for the answer to your first question.

This is an interesting question. There has been an idea floated around that the MetroStars could follow in the footsteps of the Montreal Impact and have an indoor team and an outdoor team, but that is purely speculation.

There are a couple of supporters groups in Mississauga who have been pushing for a CPL team since the league was announced, and have been active at MetroStars games.

CPL President Paul Beirne said this recently, which implies that a team will be coming to the city sooner rather than later:

Having both an indoor and outdoor team with the same ownership group could allow players to stay active all-year round, as well as grow the arena game. Again, this is purely speculation and hypothesizing, but it would great for the city and fans in Mississauga if it were to happen.

The MetroStars return return home on Friday after a four-game road trip to take on the Baltimore Blast. They will try to open the second half of the season on a more positive note after dropping each of their last seven games.