Sea­Wolves up­beat ahead of de­but

Orlando Sentinel - - SPORTS WEEKEND - By Jor­dan Cul­ver

Pro soc­cer sea­son isn’t over yet in Or­lando.

While Or­lando City won’t be back in ac­tion un­til 2019, the Or­lando Sea­Wolves of the Ma­jor Arena Soc­cer League are set to kick off their in­au­gu­ral cam­paign later this month.

Be­fore the reg­u­lar sea­son gets started, the Sea­Wolves — who re­cently named Or­lando City broad­caster and Win­ter Park High coach Tom Traxler their first head coach — will host the In­ter­na­tional Chal­lenge at Sil­ver Spurs Arena in Kis­sim­mee.

The Sea­Wolves play the sec­ond match of the day, a 7:05 p.m. tilt with the Brazil­ian Na­tional Mini­foot­ball Team. It’ll be the Sea­Wolves’ first home game.

For fans, it’ll be their first glimpse of what the Sea­Wolves can do un­der Traxler.

“I’m ex­cited to have him on board,” vet­eran MASL de­fender Joshio San­doval said about Traxler. “He’s go­ing to lead us to big­ger and bet­ter things here.

“It’s unity. Unity from the en­tire club. From the pres­i­dent all the way down to the wa­ter­boy, you know? I be­lieve once a team feels as if they’re com­ing to­gether, the chem­istry will dic­tate the rest of the sea­son.”

Sea Wolves co-owner and gen­eral man­ager Chris Kokalis said the team’s ros­ter has a lot of play­ers who are new to in­door soc­cer. He fully en­dorsed Traxler as the team’s head coach and said Traxler has promised to “work harder than any­one I could hire.”

“We’re a new club,” Kokalis said. “We’re just get­ting off the ground. So hav­ing some­one that un­der­stands where Or­lando City went when they first started to where they are to­day, [Traxler] re­ally has been not only a good am­bas­sador for the club, a good friend, but also some­one I think I’ll work well with in help­ing us achieve the goals we’re look­ing for.”

Kokalis added he’s made ex­pec­ta­tions clear to Traxler.

“He knows I’m a com­peti­tor and I want to win right away,” Kokalis said. “The ros­ter that we’ve put to­gether, there’s no rea­son this team can’t com­pete on the field. You’ve got a good core of in­door vet­er­ans [com­bined] with good young play­ers who maybe aren’t fa­mil­iar with the in­door game or haven’t had in­door ex­pe­ri­ence, but with their out­door ca­reers, they were tremen­dous play­ers.

“I think that it’s a learn­ing curve for [Traxler], but it’s a learn­ing curve for [the play­ers] so hope­fully, with my as­sis­tance, with some of the of the in­door vet­er­ans on the team, we all can work to­gether as a fam­ily and hit the ground the run­ning.”

Traxler isn’t shy­ing away from those ex­pec­ta­tions.

“A lot of peo­ple may not know, and they think, ‘Sud­denly, now he’s the head coach of the Or­lando Sea­Wolves,’ but there’s never an overnight suc­cess. This is some­thing that takes years and years and years of work to get to.”

He said the Sea­Wolves will play de­fen­sively sound soc­cer. That’s no small dec­la­ra­tion, con­sid­er­ing shutouts are ex­ceed­ingly rare in MASL matches and score lines can some­times look more like a low-scor­ing Amer­i­can foot­ball game.

“Chris Kokalis and I talked and it’s some­thing that he stressed to me,” Traxler said. “He wants to be a solid de­fen­sive or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

Arena soc­cer has some key dif­fer­ences from the out­door game. For ex­am­ple, each side has five play­ers and a goal­keeper in play at any given time. There are time­outs, there are power plays (like in hockey) and the ball is al­most con­stantly live due to the walls sur­round­ing the field.

Those are just a few dif­fer­ences.

“I en­joy be­ing on the ball,” said for­mer Or­lando City full­back Luke Bo­den. “It’s a small space. I en­joy pass­ing. I en­joy mov­ing. I’m just look­ing for­ward to play­ing again. I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to play­ing again, get­ting on the field and just en­joy­ing my foot­ball again.” Pro Soc­cer USA

JOR­DAN CUL­VER/OR­LANDO SEN­TINEL

New Or­lando Sea­Wolves coach Tom Traxler is ready to lead the team dur­ing its de­but match.

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