MASL 2 PLAYOFF MVP TO BE NAMED AFTER INDOOR LEGEND HERNAN "CHICO" BORJA
TAMPA, Fla. – When the Top 4 teams in Major Arena Soccer League 2 gather for this weekend’s playoffs in Wichita, one of the sport’s most iconic players will be honored.
M2 Commissioner Chris Economides has announced that the Most Valuable Player award for the league's post season, including the three games this weekend at Hartman Arena ,will be named and presented in honor of former Wings great Chico Borja, who passed away after a four-year battle with cancer earlier this year.
Borja was not only one of the game’s all-time greats, but he was beloved by fans off the field as well.
“Chico combined a passion for the game, a flair for the dramatic, and the pure love of performing for the Orange Army in a way that almost no other player in the history of the sport has ever been able to replicate,” Economides said. “The Kansas Coliseum was electric every time he scored a goal, in part because Wichita fans couldn’t wait to see what he might do to celebrate for them and with them.”
More importantly, however, he was connected to the community in ways that most athletes, past and present, simply aren’t.
“His passion went far beyond the pitch. He loved Wichita, and being a part of the community and giving back defined him even more than his play with the Wings,” Economides added.
A member of the North American Soccer League champion New York Cosmos in 1982, Borja turned his attention to the indoor game, becoming a star with the Wings, while also later in his arena career suiting up for the Los Angeles Lazers and Las Vegas Americans.
He retired after the 1991-92 season finishing his indoor career fourth all-time in assists (338) and eighth in total points (612). He also suited up 11 times for the U.S. men’s national team, scoring three goals, and was a member of the U.S. Olympic soccer team in 1984.
“Chico was an idol for kids growing up in Wichita,” said Larry Inlow, one of those Wichita kids who grew up to play for the Wings, in a story in the Wichita Eagle after his passing. “Kids were trying to emulate his moves and his celebrations. They wanted to wear that No. 6. And I was one of them. It’s hard for me to put into words the impact that he made in Wichita. There’s just not enough ink in the pen.”
Another teammate, Sammy Lane, said Borja’s influence on the game locally could hardly be measured.
“If there was a Mount Rushmore for the Wichita Wings, Chico would be carved into it,” Lane said in the same Wichita Eagle report. “It really was a perfect storm of greatness. Chico played the game with so much heart and passion, fans loved that about him. And then he would score and shake the glass and the Coliseum would be rocking with him and the Orange Army was born.”
The Wings will be hosting the M2 semi-final and championship game this weekend at Hartman Arena. The Cleveland Crunch will meet the Amarillo Bombers Saturday at 3 p.m. (CST) in one semi-final while the Wings will host the Chicago Mustangs in the other semifinal tilt starting at 7 p.m.. The winners will meet for the M2 title on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Hartman Arena.
All three games will be streamed and broadcast live (available for viewing on select cable and satellite providers to 60 million homes worldwide) by For The Fans network (www.ftfnext.com for the live stream). Tickets are available for both days by visiting www.wichitawingssoccer.com.