CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Rampage closed their third Major Arena Soccer League regular season with a home game.
The question is, will there be another?
A 5-3 loss to the 19-1 Monterrey Flash Friday night at the U.S. Cellular left the Rampage with a final regular-season record of 11-11. While one win short of last season’s win total (12-8), the mark was good enough to garner a franchise-first playoff berth.
“I think we’re ready,” Rampage Coach Ante Cop said. “This kind of style of soccer, I think we’ve proven how we can play this playoff style of soccer against anybody in this league.”
Due to the NCAA Division II wrestling championships March 9-10 at the U.S. Cellular Center, the Rampage home playoff game March 10 against the Milwaukee Wave will actually be 215 miles away at the Odeum Expo Center in Villa Park, Ill.
Game 2 will be March 11 at Milwaukee. Should the teams split the first two games, a 15-minute, winner-take-all mini-game will be played immediately following Game 2.
“It was tough,” Rampage Co-Owner/General Manager Chris Kokalis said. “The date we had available was March 12, and the first round has to be completed by March 11. We petitioned with the Milwaukee Wave to see if they would be willing to play on the 11th (at Milwaukee) and then we play the 12th (at Cedar Rapids). Obviously they have earned the right to have home-field advantage and they do not want to give that up.”
Starting the playoffs prior to March 9 was also not an option as the Wave do not conclude their regular season until March 3. The club also inquired about venues in the Quad Cities and Des Moines, but ultimately decided on Chicago.
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“It’s definitely unfortunate that they couldn’t get the playoff game here,” Rampage midfielder Bobby Hurwitz said. “The only good news about it is a lot of us are from Chicago and we are familiar with that arena.”
With no first-round home playoff game, a rumor of a possible franchise relocation could mean the city has seen its last professional soccer game in eastern Iowa. Kokalis revealed Friday night that after two years, the Cedar Rapids Rampage United outdoor soccer team will not field a squad this summer.
“From a scheduling perspective, it just did not work out for us,” Kokalis said.
While the ownership group continues to pursue the sale of the Cedar Rapids Titans Indoor Football League team, which according to a source familiar with the negotiations could be had for a price as low as $50,000, a decision on the future of the Rampage indoor team is also expected in the coming weeks.
For now, the immediate focus is the MASL playoffs. Milwaukee won three of four games against Cedar Rapids this season, but the Rampage have the most recent victory in the series, 5-3, on Jan. 18.
“It proved to us that they’re beatable,” said Rampage midfielder Gordy Gurson, who scored two goals against Monterrey and finished with 30 this season. “It’s big mentally for us and I think we’re going to match up well against them.”
AT U.S. CELLULAR CENTER
Monterrey Flash 5, Cedar Rapids Rampage 3
Monterrey 1 0 1 3 —5
Cedar Rapids 1 0 1 1 —3
First Quarter — Scoring: 1. Monterrey: Edgar Flores (Miguel Vaca), 5:42; 2. Cedar Rapids: Osvaldo Rojas (Gordy Gurson), 10:57.
Third Quarter — Scoring: 3. Cedar Rapids: Gurson, 8:22; 4. Monterrey: Erick Flores (Lourenco Andrade), 11:50.
Fourth Quarter — Scoring: 5. Monterrey: Carlos Farias, 1:54; 6. Monterrey: Edgar González, 2:11; 7. Cedar Rapids: Gurson 2 (Victor France), 4:19; 8. Monterrey: Damian Garcia, 11:05.
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Powerplay opportunities — Monterrey 0-0, Cedar Rapids: 0-0.
Goalies — Monterrey: Diego Reynoso 17-14, Cedar Rapids: Rainer Hauss 17-12. Shots on goal — Monterrey 5-5-6-4—20, Cedar Rapids 8-4-5-4—21.
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