By: Hubble Smith - Sports Editor
With soccer fans everywhere feeling World Cup fever, the Las Vegas Legends announced Monday the team would join the Major Arena Soccer League and play 10 home games at The Orleans Arena from October through February.
The Major Indoor Soccer League and Professional Arena Soccer League have merged to form one “super league” with 24 teams, Legends owner and coach Meir Cohen said at a press conference held at Las Vegas Indoor Sports Park. The Major Arena Soccer League will be divided into geographic divisions and play 20 regular season games, with each division sending three teams to the playoffs.
The Legends enter their third year playing professional indoor soccer in Las Vegas, winning the PASL division title in their first two seasons. The team features a couple players who previously played for their home country’s World Cup team.
Israel Sesay, a second-year midfielder for the Legends, came from Sierra Leone to the United States when he was 12 and became the youngest player to sign with the Los Angeles Galaxy professional soccer team. He said he probably could have helped his country qualify for the World Cup, but was committed to the Galaxy.
Sesay was coaching a group of kids attending a youth soccer camp at Las Vegas Indoor Sports Park during the press conference. He said Legends players have connected with potential future players by visiting schools and talking to students about playing soccer.
Cohen, originally from Israel and a member of the Junior National soccer team, said he came to Las Vegas with a vision to create something for the community and found it after taking his children to a Galaxy game in L.A. They asked why Las Vegas didn’t have a pro soccer team.
“The first two years were great,” Cohen said. “We made it to the championship. Now we’re entering a great era for indoor soccer.”
The 9,000-seat Orleans Arena is a “perfect fit” for indoor soccer, Cohen said, and the Legends have established a relationship with the community by making the games affordable. “I want to see a packed stadium when the Legends are playing,” he said.
The Legends draw about 2,000 fans to their games, growing to about 5,000 when Mexico’s top teams visit Las Vegas, Cohen said. Monterrey Flash demanded to be scheduled for a game in Las Vegas at the league meeting, he said.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman asked how many of the 40 soccer campers were watching World Cup competition and they all raised their hands.“He’s wonderful,” Goodman told the kids about Cohen.
“He had a dream to do something and a passion to make it happen. Each one of you who plans to play soccer or be a coach or own a team, this day is important because it shows dreams and visions come true.”
Tickets to Legends games are $9 for children, $18 for adults, with 10-game season passes sold at a discount.
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