Out on the peripheral of soccer, the MASL keeps the the memories of those days when the MISL captured the imaginations of the nation alive. The Tacoma Stars are among the leaders in that movement. They are part nostalgia and part local powerhouse thrilling the people of Kent and Tacoma with hair-band rock and soccer that doesn’t slow down. They’ve done a fine job in their just-over-three seasons.
Those years, the roster was built on the backs of Darren Sawatzky’s connections to the Sounders Academy (which he launched), the Sounders U23s (which he manages) and other locals. The Stars first three full seasons they competed for playoff spots, earning a trip the second season twice and collecting a 34-28 record.
Danny Waltman, Joey Gjerstan, Troy Peterson, Chase Hanson, the Coxs, Ramoses and others powered the team. But for the 2018-19 those locals are supplemented with more huge names.
Last year’s signing of former MLS Sounder, Philip Lund, is joined by James Riley. The MLS Cup champion, now broadcaster, adds serious name recognition to the organization. This will be his first indoor season. But as is true for many players of his age, he grew up watching Preki and others rock arenas in the 80s.
The bigger signings based on what they can do on the field are Matt Clare and Milan Ivanovic. Ivanovic you may know as one of the Seattle Reign’s assistant coachs. In Kansas City, he coached alongside Vlatko Andonovski in the NWSL and played for him with the KC Comets. He scored 3 goals, assisted 3 times and appeared in 10 games playing mostly in the midfield.
The ringer is Clare. Matt scored 35 goals and assisted on 30 more in the past two seasons, both with the San Diego Sockers. He appeared in 41 games. He also appeared in 8 playoff games, scoring 3 times and assisting on 8 occasions. His scoring prowess has translated at all levels of the indoor game with three different organizations to this point. Clare made the Conference Finals each of the last two years and with San Diego never won less than 13 games in his three seasons there.
Co-Rookie of the Year 2017-18 Lund and Riley might be the ones that draw the eyes of Sounders fans towards ShoWare Center throughout the winter, but the action on the floor is capable of pushing for a division title. Layering Clare, Ivanovic, Mike Scharf and Sam Zisette onto a squad that carries continuity and excellence forward gives Sawatzky a team that isn’t just shooting for the playoffs, but eyeing a trophy.
Tacoma Stars SC start their season at ShoWare Center on December 1 at 7:30 PM.