Written by Andy Linker
HARRISBURG, PA., May 19, 2014 -- The Harrisburg Heat’s league is changing its name from the Professional Arena Soccer League to the Major Arena Soccer League in time for the 2014-15 season, the league announced today in Baltimore.
At the same time, the new MASL is adding six cities from the old, seven-team Major Indoor Soccer League and giving the Heat new rivals with the Baltimore Blast, Rochester Lancers and Syracuse Silver Knights — three teams migrating from the MISL, along with the Milwaukee Wave, St. Louis Ambush and Missouri Comets. Only the Pennsylvania Roar, an expansion team last season based in Reading, will not join the new league from the MISL.
In adding new teams, the MASL will grow to 24 teams for the 2014-15 season, up four teams from the PASL at the end of its sixth season in 2014.
“A lot of owners checked their egos at the door and worked hard to make this happen,” said Heat owner and CEO John Wilsbach, who was involved with the league’s plans from the start. “There are still a couple of league issues, like scoring, to work out, but to have one league this size is monumental.”
Among those issues is deciding whether to keep the PALS’s scoring system of one point per goal or adopt the MISL’s multi-point scoring system that also was used by the original Heat from 1991-2003.
The league’s new look also will increase the schedule from 16 to 20 games in the regular season, giving the Heat two more home games as they move this fall from the State Farm Show’s Equine Arena into the complex’s larger and more familiar Large Arena — the home to the original Heat.
The Heat will begin the third season of their new era in November. The first game in the MASL will be played Oct. 25 between the Dallas Sidekicks and the Missouri Comets, last season’s MISL champion.
“This is a historic time for the Harrisburg Heat,” Wilsbach said. “We’re going back to the Large Arena and we’ll play a 20-game season against teams and cities that were common with the original Heat.”
While divisions have not been announced yet, the Heat are expected to be grouped with Baltimore, Rochester and Syracuse.
“Rekindling the Baltimore Blast rivalry will be extra special to our fans and players,” Wilsbach said.
The Heat are expected to name their next head coach within a couple of weeks.
Indoor soccer icon and Hall of Famer Richard Chinapoo guided the Heat during the first two seasons of the team’s rebirth, compiling a 10-22 record. He left the team after last season to rejoin his family in Florida and be closer to his native Trinidad and Tobago.