CEDAR RAPIDS — For the first time in their three-year history, the Cedar Rapids Rampage are in the playoffs.
The Rampage clinched their first Major Arena Soccer League playoff berth after defeating the two-time defending league champion Baltimore Blast, 6-5, Friday night at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“I don’t like depending on other teams losing or winning,” Cedar Rapids Coach Ante Cop said. “I like taking care of my own business.”
Cedar Rapids (10-9) — winners of four of five games — earned the second playoff spot in the MASL Central Division by virtue of a four-game season sweep of Kansas City (5-12), which is now eliminated from contention.
“This indoor soccer is a lot of momentum,” said Rampage forward Gordy Gurson, who scored three goals, including the game winner with 41 seconds left in the game. “I think right now we’re starting to pick up our momentum and our team chemistry is the best it has ever been in the three years of me being here. This is something we look forward to every single day. We get excited about training, we get excited about being together. We’re all working for one another, that same common goal and it is starting to show.”
With its playoff fortunes set, the club will make its first international road trip with a Sunday game in Monterrey, Mexico against the 17-1 Flash. On Monday, Cedar Rapids visits Rio Grande Valley (3-16) in Hidalgo, Texas.
“We’re going to want the results to keep our momentum going into the playoffs,” Gurson said. “Playing Monterrey, a team with one loss, I think we are pretty much prepared for them. If we can beat the defending champion (Baltimore) and take care of the last champion before them (Monterrey), that would be something big for us.”
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Cedar Rapids will be without at least four players on the road trip – midfielders Alex Bradley and Victor France, plus goalkeepers Rainer Hauss and Patrizio Paradiso – due to work visa concerns.
“With the current climate as well as border control in general, they could make things very difficult for me on re-entering,’ said Bradley, a native of England whose work visa expires in July. “I don’t think it is something that is worth the risk of me not being able to finish the season or something like that for one game.”
With both goalkeepers unavailable, Cop will be called into action to defend the goal. Cop, 43, last played indoor soccer for the Rockford Rampage in the Premier Arena Soccer League during the 2012-13 season. He also played goalkeeper in the Premier League of America for the Croatian Eagles outdoor soccer team as recently as 2016.
“I think the lineup that we’re going down there with will still be enough,” Cop said.
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