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Danza Turns Pro in the PASL

Former Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves and Liverpool Warriors player Josh Danza has signed with the Tulsa Revolution of the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL).

Photo Credit: Tulsa Revolution

“Danza has the potential to be the biggest locker room presence on the team,” said Revolution head coach Michael Nsien. “Not to take away from his knowledge and skill base because he has that going for him as well. However, his intangibles are second to none. His approach to training and passion for the game has been contagious.”

Danza, a Baltimore native, was a standout for Towson University.  He is known for his versatility, being able to play almost any position on the field.

His biggest moment was playing with the Puerto Rico Men’s National Team in 2012.  His professional experience also includes time with the Ohio Vortex, where he played and worked in the team’s front office.

Danza has been the recipient of many awards, including being named to the U.S. Soccer Report’s PDL/NPSL Best XI along with being named an NPSL All-Star.

Off the field he serves as Director of Operations for True Student Athletes, an organization that assists student-athletes as they prepare for their collegiate experience.

Marino Joins the PASL Coaching Ranks with the Freeze

The Cleveland Freeze announced today that Hector Marinaro, the all-time leader in points and goals in professional indoor soccer, will become the Freeze’s head coach for their inaugural 2013/2014 Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL) season.

This comes after the Freeze previously announced Co-Owner and Director of Team Operations Louis Kastelic as the team’s Head Coach.
“I am honored to have been offered the job to coach this team and was fully prepared to do so, but hiring Hector is what is best for this organization,” Kastelic commented.
Marinaro, who will remain the Head Coach for John Carroll University’s men’s soccer team, will lead the Freeze into their first-ever PASL season.  
“Indoor soccer has been a huge part of my life that brought me a lot of success and great times,” Marinaro remarked. “It gives me an opportunity to get back into the game that gave me so much. I love the game of indoor soccer and hope to bring back some excitement to the indoor soccer fans of Northeast Ohio that supported me for so many years throughout my playing career.”
Marinaro, a legendary professional player, brings a robust resume to the Cleveland Freeze.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Hector will do a terrific job coaching the Freeze,” Kastelic concluded. “His accomplishments as a professional player are remarkable and I cannot wait to see all the things he can do now as our coach.” 
Marinaro finished his 21-year playing career with the Cleveland Force as a player and assistant coach. He is the all-time leading scorer in the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) with 1,223 goals and 701 assists. His accomplishments as a player include nine MISL Scoring Championships, being a fifteen-time MISL All-Star, leading Cleveland to three championship titles and having the MISL League Most Valuable Player Award renamed in his honor in 2005.  A native of Canada, Marinaro also played with the Toronto Blizzard and Rochester Rhinos in addition to earning six caps with the Canadian National Team.
Marino’s coaching career is also a success. Since he was hired at John Carroll University in 2006, Marinaro has led the Blue Streaks to a record of 69-53-17. In 2007, the team won the OAC Tournament Championship.  The Blue Streaks under Marinaro have been to the OAC semifinals five times and the championship three times. In his second season, he led JCU to a13-8-1 record and their fifth OAC Tournament Title, giving them an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III Championship. The team finished in the round of 32 after being eliminated on penalty kicks.
“We are honored to announce Hector as our head coach,” Freeze President and GM Scott Snider commented. “After long discussions with Louis and Hector, this is most certainly a fantastic opportunity for our organization. There is no better time to be a soccer fan, a Cleveland Freeze fan and a Clevelander. We look forward to this season.” 
“I am very impressed with the ownership group that has been put together,” Marinaro concluded. “I wouldn’t get involved unless I felt the ownership group was committed to bringing quality indoor soccer to this area. I have seen franchises come and go since I retired as a player and I want to bring back the excitement that the indoor soccer fans of Northeast Ohio deserve.”

Can the Freeze Reignite the Fire of Arena Soccer in Cleveland?

Fans of the indoor game have many fond memories. Unfortunately, most of those memories are in the past.  Known by many names, this version of the beautiful game focuses on bringing the game inside for fast and entertaining soccer.

In Ohio, there were many success stories when it came to the sport of indoor soccer.  The Canton Invaders, and more importantly, the Cleveland Crunch and Force took Northeast Ohio by force.  Big crowds in large venues were the name of the game.  10,000-12,000 fans coming out for a match went from a goal to the norm at the Richfield Coliseum as the game surged in popularity.  But that bubble burst as the indoor game went from something like the “Roaring 20s” to resembling something more like “The Great Depression”.

Attempts to resurrect the sport in NE Ohio, once an important hotbed, have yielded mixed results.  The Cleveland Pride came and went without anyone noticing them followed by the Ohio Vortex, which had a successful first season at the Canton Memorial Civic Center, the former home of the Invaders.

But the bad luck soon found its way into the Vortex camp as the owner and much of the staff left behind an organization that struggled mightily for three more seasons.  Constantly changing venues, a revolving door of players, and financial instability left many fans of the sport with a bad taste in their mouth.  You could certainly argue that the Vortex brand did more harm than good.

So who would be brave enough to brave these troubled waters to bring arena soccer back to Cleveland? An ownership group made up of coaches, retired players, and successful entrepreneurs have boldly take a step forward to bring the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL) franchise called the Cleveland Freeze to the suburb of North Olmsted.

Snider calls the decision to bring the Freeze into the PASL as a “no-brainer” since the league has good, workable business models and 20 existing teams in the pro division alone.   He hopes that the Freeze will bring about a rebirth of the indoor game here in the Midwest, providing Ohio talent somewhere to play and at the same time providing fans with a chance to enjoy the beautiful game in a new and exciting way.

Now the PASL is a smaller and more cost-effective version of the grand days of the NPSL and MISL at their peak.  We’re no longer talking about crowds in the thousands, but rather the hundreds.  But the game remains the same, a version of soccer that borrows from the speed and intensity of hockey and makes goals and big scorelines a reality. No more complaints about watching a 0-0 draw or getting only a goal after 90 minutes.  This certainly is not for the soccer purists, but rather casual and curious fans or diehards left behind from a forgotten era.

Scott Snider and his team of investors are not afraid to take a risk, hoping that this brand and this organization can herald a rebirth of the indoor game right here in the Sixth City.  But it is not going to be easy, but they are just asking for a chance.

Giving them a chance is as simple as heading out to a game at the Soccer Sportsplex in North Olmsted.  The Freeze will be offering up to 1000 seats for spectators, including bleacher seats, a VIP lounge, standing room areas, and “on the glass” seating for an up close and personal view of the game. They will have a full offering of food and beverages, including beer and wine.  All at an affordable price.

Some things are stacked in their favor.NE Ohiois historically regarded as a great soccer market, one of the best in the country. AFC Cleveland and recent U.S. Soccer friendlies have rekindled the area’s love for the beautiful game. Any many Clevelanders still remember the “good old days” of the Crunch and Force as Hector Marinaro and Otto Orf graced the Coliseum.

You only have to look at the struggles of the Vortex to come up with concerns, but the Freeze organization appears to be a different animal altogether.

The first thing that stands out is experience.  Snider and fellow co-owner Louis Kastelic are soccer people.  Snider and Kastelic both were players for the Vortex and know how to avoid those same mistakes.

Kastelic, only 26 and fresh off a successful playing career, is already making headlines as the youngest head coach in PASL history.

Kastelic is a real leader in NE Ohio soccer, serving on the staff of indoor soccer legend Hector Marinaro. (Photo Credit: JCU Sports Information)

Snider, a goalkeeper by trade, and Kastelic, an assistant with the John Carroll University men’s soccer program, have a passion and desire to make this work unlike anything we have ever seen.  The latter even has Marinaro, his boss at JCU, to lean on.

What better person could you get advice from? Marinaro absolutely shattered the record books for indoor soccer and helped bring a championship to a city that hasn’t had much luck in that department.

Snider and Kastelic are joined by three other investors, forming a strong and stable ownership group that has as much experience in the business world as they do on the field.  And they are committed to Cleveland and NE Ohio in a big way.

“I grew up on the Cleveland Force and the Cleveland Crunch,” Snider commented. “We want to honor and respect the game and build something new.  Something that offers unique, affordable winter entertainment.

Giving back is going to be a big part of the Freeze’s involvement in the community.  Snider has plans for charitable organizations to gain revenue from 50/50 raffles, ticket sales, and exposure at Freeze home matches.  Community camps and clinics are also planned for the future. All of this is done in a love for NE Ohio and Cleveland.

“Cleveland is in a Renaissance,” Snider added. “It is such a great time to be involved in Cleveland.”

And it is a great time to be involved with soccer.  The World Cup in Brazil is less than a year away. The EPL is getting record ratings numbers on U.S. television. The growth of soccer in every outdoor league has reached unprecedented levels. But how will that translate to the indoor game?

If anyone can pull off arena soccer in Cleveland it is going to be Scott Snider and the Cleveland Freeze.

Rampage Lose Heartbreaker to Rio Grande

The Rockford Rampage closed the book on the 2012 portion of their schedule on a down note on Saturday night, when they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Rio Grande Valley Flash at the Victory Sports Center.  The final result equaled the lowest scoring game in PASL history.

The Rampage (5-4) took a 2-1 lead five minutes into the game, with goals by Elvir Kafedzic and Admir Ljeljak. However, that would be all the scoring that the Rampage could muster for the rest of the match, as Flash keeper Jose Bontti was masterful in the final - minutes of the match, keeping the home team off the scoreboard. A goal by Robson de Souza at 9:19 of the fourth quarter proved to be the gamewinner.

Ante “Chopper” Cop took the hard luck loss for the Rampage, making 13 saves on 16 Flash shots.

The Rampage are currently in fourth place in the PASL’s Central Division, two and a half games behind the division leading Dallas Sidekicks.

The Rampage will continue their seven game homestand on January 5th when they will host the Dallas Sidekicks at the Victory Sports Complex (7003 North Alpine Rd in Loves Park). This will also make the first trip to Rockford for indoor soccer legend Tatu, who has played and coached in Dallas since 1984. The “Fantastic One” scored more than 600 goals in his 21 year indoor career, and was known throughout the sport for tossing his jersey into the stands after every goal he scored. Kickoff for that game will be at 8:05 PM.

Rockford Rampage Victorious in Ohio

The Rockford Rampage defeated the Ohio Vortex in their first game of the season in Oberlin, Ohio. The Rampage scored 3 goals in the first quarter.  The goals were score by Bojan Jovicic (assisted by Adnan Epujovic), Joel Del Toro, and Gilberto Alfaro.
Eric Lukin scored in the second quarter to make it 4-0.  Peter Kolasinski scored with a powerful shot to the low right corner, which turned out to be an impossible save for the keeper to add to the lead and make it 5-0 in the 3rd quarter.
Bojan Jovicic scored his fourth goal of the night, assisted by Adnan Epujovic, to make it 6-0.  In the final quarter the Ohio Vortex scored their lone tally to make it 6-1.
That turned out to be the final score and the Rampage opened the season with their first win in their Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL).
The Rockford Rampage are returning to the field at the Victory Sports Complex (7003 North Alpine Rd. in Loves Park) this November in the Professional Arena Soccer League. The PASL, led by commissioner Kevin Milliken, currently has 19 teams across the United States and Mexico. Last season’s champions, the San Diego Sockers, finished with a record of 16-0.
The Rampage played from 2006-2008 in the American Indoor Soccer League, where they won the league’s 2008 championship. They also played two seasons in the Major Indoor Soccer League, making an appearance in the league’s title game in 2010.
The Rampage home opener is set for Saturday, November 24 at 7:05 pm when they meet the Chicago Mustangs.
Tickets are for sale at prices are $10 for general admission, $15 for Platinum, and $20 for the VIP Sky view seating.