Fury Hosts Arena Soccer’s Revival
ONTARIO (Calif.) — It was big. It was bold. It was Major Arena Soccer League reaching into the future.
With Monday night’s matchup – United States vs. Mexico – drawing a record 7,198 for a soccer game at Citizen’s Business Bank Arena, the Ontario Fury hosted MASL’s current owners, and new investors, with a showcase event of national interest.
“We wanted to show the owners that it doesn’t matter if it’s a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, people will come out, and it’s Monday night!” Fury president and general manager Bernie Lilavois said. “People come out to watch exciting arena soccer, and what a great show tonight!”
Fans in both Mexico and United States’ soccer jerseys streamed into Inland Southern California’s premier spectator facility, filling all but the east end seats. They were not disappointed as some of MASL’s best players from both sides of the border provided goals on goals for 60 minutes.
United States built a 5-2 halftime league with a pair of goals from Las Vegas Legends all-star Eric Guzman. Team captain Kraig Chiles (San Diego Sockers) had a goal and an assist and both Gordy Gurson (Cedar Rapids Rampage) and Tino Nunez (Ontario Fury) added goals, Nunez’s an overhead bicycle kick with 3 seconds left in the second half.
“Once the whistle blew it was 25 really competitive dudes, and nobody wanted to lose,” Chiles said.
Mexico rallied in the third quarter with three unanswered goals – two from Uziel Roman – but Chiles perfectly-placed free kick maintained U.S.’ lead before he added another in the fourth quarter to help seal a 10-8 victory.
“They were coming hot (and) as the game opened up it kind of catered to me a little bit, and I was able to finish my opportunities,” Chiles said.
The game was played on the second of the league’s annual three-day off-season meetings. Fury staff hosted the league’s owners at the DoubleTree Hotel in Ontario from Sunday, June 26 to Tuesday, June 28. The first day of the meetings included a league-wide scouting combine at the Fury’s training center, Scheu Family YMCA in Upland.
“We invited the entire league here and we really wanted to put our best foot forward,” Lilavois said. “I think we accomplished that, and the future is very bright for Major Arena Soccer League.”
News to be announced from the meetings include a new league president, a new second division (MASL2), expansion plans and a new media-rights deal.
“You’re going to see a very big marketing arm launch for the league, similar to UFC or MLS. Digital media and marketing, that’s the future for us,” Lilavois said, before adding “I want something bigger.”
As owners, players and staff celebrated deep inside the arena afterward, the building still buzzing with people, there was a palpable sense of new energy, even for a franchise about to celebrate barely its fourth birthday.
“Credit goes to the Fury staff and front office for just being out there and working in the community. This is what it’s coming to,” Lilavois said. “It’s a great showcase for MASL, and I’m glad all the owners got to see it.”
Was it a new beginning for arena soccer in North America? Maybe if more teams model themselves from Lilavois’ and the Fury’s example.
“What the Ontario Fury and Bernie did selling that crowd was fantastic,” Chiles said. “I think all players want to play in front of crowds like that.”