Around The League With Joseph Reina // Week 16

**The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the viewpoints or positions of the Major Arena Soccer League.**



Records shattered, status quo scrubbed away. Monterrey is writing itself into the history books, one glorious win at a time. No lead is safe against the Flash. Entertain confidence at your own risk. We’ve seen Monterrey down more than a few goals, and every time, without fail, they’ve forged a trail through the impossible to steal victory from the jaws of defeat. Victors, never vanquished; the Flash are the real deal.

This weekend, faced with a trip to Chihuahua and a visit from Baltimore, Monterrey again showed its gall. Against the Savage, they led from the start, thwarting every attempt from the hosts to draw level. A flurry of fourth-quarter goals sealed the 10-6 win and the series sweep to go with it. Sweeping any team is impressive and worthy of note, but sweeping the Savage is likely the best proof that Monterrey is the deserving favorite to hoist the Ron Newman Cup.



— MASL (@MASLarena) March 10, 2024

They’ve secured the MASL Shield, and now, all that's left to play for in the regular season is pride and the continuation of their unblemished record. 22 wins down, two to go. All that stands in their way are home games against Texas and Milwaukee. They’ll have a week to prepare for both games, so load management will be on their side, but they’re still facing two of the league’s most entertaining teams, so six points are far from guaranteed.

Both teams have already lost to Monterrey, with Texas losing both games in eerily similar fashions. The Outlaws led each match until the final minutes, only to lose by a single goal both times. They were dominant, leading 4-1 and 8-5, respectively, before the Flash came surging back. So, for Texas, the message is simple: Play your game for 60 minutes, not just 45.

For Milwaukee, the task is similar. Until Baltimore took the Flash to overtime this weekend, the only team Monterrey had failed to get three points against had been the Wave. Both of their trips to UWM Panther Arena required overtime, though not much of it. In Mexico, Milwaukee looked inferior, losing 9-4 in a game they never really challenged, so they’ll need to change some things this time around, but this Milwaukee Wave team is very different from the side that lost all three meetings in December and January.

Monterrey is the best team in the league for a reason. They have an airtight game plan, and in the face of defeat, they don’t panic. There are stars in every line who can turn a game on its head, and they know that their talent and preparedness will show through. It's hard to look at their final two games and say they could realistically lose unless they rest a ton of their main team. Then again, Baltimore gave them a game at home, so why can’t Texas and Milwaukee?

Make sure you don’t miss the first of their two games when they take on the Outlaws at 5:35 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Mar. 17.


With three games left, the Wave is peaking at the perfect time. I’ve discussed the Wave’s struggles this season at length, but in short, Giuliano Oliviero’s side has started games slowly, forcing them to fight from behind. They’ve also struggled to score goals from open play, a problem exacerbated when Marcio Leite isn’t on the field. Against Utica and St. Louis, these issues seemed a thing of the past.

I’ll first give a shout-out to William Banahene, who made 16 saves on Friday, with a save percentage of 84.2%. This season, Utica has averaged one of the highest goals-per-shot figures in the league, with a spectacular 27.4% of their shots finding the back of the net. Against the Wave, that number dropped to just 9.4%. Banahene had a great night, but Milwaukee's defense deserves its praise too, blocking 13 shots and forcing Utica to take low-percentage shots.

Check out the best moments from last yesterday’s win!

✅ HILARIOUS halftime show by the ZOOperstars!
✅ HUGE Wave win over Utica City FC

Don't miss any of the action! Get your tickets today at

— Milwaukee Wave (@MilwaukeeWave) March 9, 2024

They did this by limiting the amount of counterattacks the visitors saw. Keeping defenders back consistently, avoiding blue cards, and simply ensuring that Utica’s difference makers weren’t able to do their job. Mohamed Ndiaye, Ronaldinho Diniz, Logan Roberts, and Steven Fernandez, all of whom found the scoresheet in Kansas City, failed to register a point in Milwaukee.

On Sunday afternoon, in front of over 4,500 fans, the Wave completed their sweep of St. Louis with a thrilling shootout. The game featured 11 lead changes and six fourth-quarter goals, but none was better than Ricardo Carvalho’s acrobatic effort that flew past a helpless Paulo Nascimento, into the top corner.


— MASL (@MASLarena) March 10, 2024

While the night could have, and probably should have belonged to Carvalho, the Wave earned the win thanks to a challenge during the shootout. Head coach Giuliano Oliviero spotted the ball over the line during Lucas Almeida’s crucial attempt. I’m personally a huge advocate for smart usage of the coach’s challenge, and this was by far one of the best I’ve seen. It took a goal away from his opponents, putting his team in the perfect position to capitalize and win. A must-score attempt suddenly became a game-winning shot. Different situation completely, because Oliviero kept his wits about him.

Having now clinched a spot in the playoffs, all that remains to be seen is if they can retain their third seed. Five points from their last three games would secure third place at least, but five points will be difficult to come by. They will visit Dallas this weekend, before hosting San Diego and then traveling to Monterrey the following week. They’ll likely need Kansas City to slip up against either St. Louis or San Diego, but with the form the Comets are in, don’t count on it. Kickoff against the Sidekicks will be on Sunday, Mar. 17, at 4:00 p.m. EDT.


With seven losses in their last eight games, Texas is arguably in the worst form of any team qualified for the playoffs. It’d be easy to say they’ve declined in the last month, but I’m not sure that’s true. They faced Monterrey, Chihuahua, and San Diego and while they lost all six games against those teams, they were competitive.

STARS top the Outlaws 7-6 at Mesquite Arena! Next up, at Dallas on Wednesday

— Tacoma Stars (@TacomaStarsSC) March 10, 2024

This week’s loss to the Stars should ring some alarm bells, but they’re not down and out yet. With three games to go, Texas will face Monterrey, Dallas, and Baltimore, so there are points to be had. Their opponents in the race to finish third, Tacoma, do have a few games in hand, but two of them are against Chihuahua. Barring a massive upset, or the return of Nick Perera, I’d be surprised if the Stars got anything from those two games.

With that being said, I’m not sure the difference between third and fourth is that important. I’d even go so far as to say, being the fourth seed might be advantageous. If the goal is to go as far as possible in the Ron Newman Cup playoffs, as it clearly should be, you’d like to avoid both Chihuahua and San Diego. Seeing as that’s not possible, whoever you’d prefer to face comes down to personal preference.

Texas has played closer games against the Sockers than it has against the Savage, and Tacoma also has come desperately close to knocking off Phil Salvagio’s side, but we’ll have a clearer picture after this week. Make no mistake though, the Outlaws need to right the ship, and fast. Momentum will be crucial for the playoffs, and a good place to look is their late game play.


The @MonterreyFlash score FOUR TIMES in 3:31, and they lead 9-8 in the final minute

— MASL (@MASLarena) March 2, 2024

Each of their last four losses can be attributed to second-half collapses, where they were either winning and lost the lead, or the game was close and decided in the final few minutes. Lapses in concentration hurt, especially when you play three great quarters and then throw it all away. Texas risks making this a habit for opponents to exploit.

Their trip to Monterrey will be one final litmus test against the best of the best, so make sure you tune in on Sunday, Mar. 17 at 5:35 p.m. EDT.