by Lisa Sillaway

The Wichita Wings have been in lock down just like the rest of us. They ventured out for two weekends of games since the pandemic took hold of the country, but like everyone else, the boys in Orange have been staying in when they can, practicing safely on their new indoor field - and missing the game and the fans.

But this weekend, the Wings are back.

"The men are excited to play this weekend," said Coach Roger Downing. "Playing the tournament is important for our fans and our society as a whole.  We are allowed more fans than our last game.  That shows in our soccer community, as well as in our country, that progress is being made.  It gives hope."

The Major Arena Soccer League 2 will kick off its 2021 campaign this weekend in Wichita as the Wings host the “Heartland Invitational,” laying the groundwork for a season that will conclude this summer with the crowning of a league champion. The Wings hit the field this weekend at home against the Amarillo Bombers, and Omaha Kings FC and they are more than ready for the punishing schedule of a three-game run.

"Three games in a row is going to be a big challenge for our veteran group.  Indoor is extremely hard on your body and the recovery to play three games in a row will be tough," said Coach Downing. 

But, this tournament is important as it is officially the start of the MASL2 season. All six games will count towards M2’s regular season standings. Those standings will be based on a team’s winning percentage, a model similar to what the Major Arena Soccer League and other sports leagues are using in the short term since not all teams will be able to play the same number of games.

Commissioner Chris Economides said the goal is for active teams to play from 10 to 12 regular season games, with a roster of teams committed to playing in 2021 expected to be finalized in the coming weeks and months leading up to the April 1st cut off date.

No matter what form the season takes, Coach Downing said his team was ready and more than eager to dive right in this weekend.

"Kieran Laking is going to have a massive weekend for us, he’s looked great in training and will be taking on a bigger role for us this weekend," said Downing. 

In addition, there are two new faces from whom the fans haven’t seen much action yet. Coach Downing said new players Cade Martin and Nathan Clark are taking on big roles and will give the fans plenty to cheer about.

Tickets are still available at Hartman Arena's Box Office, but please note that there are seating restrictions based on Covid precautions. With the current MASL schedule evolving month-to-month the Wichita Wings are not yet selling season tickets. All games will be sold on an individual basis meanwhile, with a prorated season ticket special expected to be available for the summer games, once those dates are set. 

The games will be broadcast online via Facebook PPV for $7.99 per day. A daily purchase allows fans to watch two games and includes the Wings each day.