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G-G-G-Go for it: Alliance hit pitch

Winnipeg's pro indoor team makes home debut

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Hockey fans, soccer has a game for you and the Winnipeg Alliance is bringing it here tonight.

It's professional indoor soccer and the Winnipeg Alliance will make their home debut of the 2010 Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League season at 7 p.m. at the Seven Oaks Soccer Complex. They play again Sunday at 1 p.m. Both games are against the Saskatoon Accelerators.

The facility seats only 500, so fans are encouraged to arrive early, as tickets were also sold in advance at Boston Pizza.

"Indoor soccer is a lot like hockey, though we're hoping that fans of any sport will come and watch, because that's what is going to make the Alliance successful," said Kyle Gibson, 20, a midfielder who scored four goals last weekend when the Alliance opened the 2010 season with a pair of road losses in the U.S.

"A hockey fan could come in and know that on the penalty kill, we play a box just like hockey. They have a blue card in this league (for six team fouls). When you get a blue card, it's two minutes, like a hockey penalty, and you play short-handed. When you get a yellow card, it's five minutes (for the offending player), but it's still five-on-five."

Billy Economou, the Alliance captain, said this weekend's games are important to the Alliance finding a place in Winnipeg's sports landscape.

"It's a very fast-paced, exciting game where lots of goals are usually scored and it's pretty physical -- lots of shoulder-to-shoulder and more contact than you're used to in outdoor," said Economou, 32, a teacher at Mulvey School in Winnipeg. He competed in the first of last weekend's two games. He was also captain of Hellas, the Manitoba side that won the national senior men's championship last fall.

"From what I've witnessed so far, it's going to require a lot of fan support for sure," Economou said.

"In the games that we played, the fans were definitely an extra man out there for those teams. We've got a high calibre of players on the team and a few more will join us this weekend who weren't able to travel last weekend."

This weekend, the team will also include Jordan Goetting, Chris Musto, Dmitri Ifantis and Dan Keith.

Last Saturday and Sunday, the Alliance was defeated 6-5 in overtime by Detroit Waza in Detroit and lost 13-8 to the Ohio Vortex in Canton, Ohio.

"Playing against teams already five, six games into the season, we did pretty well. We were in both of the games and a couple of mental errors hurt us, but we worked hard and played pretty well," said midfielder Tom Foderaro, 22.

Foderaro was a team member three years ago when the Alliance first tried to gain a foothold in Manitoba. Under different ownership, the team held a showcase game on April 1, 2007 at the MTS Centre. In 2008, the team played a 10-game season in the Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League (CMISL), but had no home games due to poor planning by the former Denver-based ownership group.

The Alliance FC franchise changed hands recently and went to local ownership led by Keith Gibson.

The five CMISL teams play an interlocking schedule as a Canadian division in the U.S.-based Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL) and has adopted those rules. The Alliance team includes 20 local players.

The next home dates are Feb. 20 and 21, with the final game Feb. 27 at the MTS Centre.

Watch & learn at Seven Oaks

The Winnipeg Alliance FC is a member of the Canadian Major Indoor Soccer League (CMISL) and plays an interlocking schedule with teams from the U.S.-based Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL).

Here's a look at the PASL rules that will be in play during the Alliance's home debut today and Sunday at Seven Oaks Soccer Complex:

"ö Each side plays six players at a time, including the goalkeeper. Game-day rosters have a maximum of 13 players.

"ö Players can change on the fly and teams will play short-handed if penalties are called.

"ö The game is played indoors on a regulation-size hockey rink covered with artificial turf. Nets are 8x14 feet and recessed into the end boards.

"ö Games comprise four 15-minute quarters.

-- Source

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 9, 2010 D8

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