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Monday, Dec. 2, 2013

The Milwaukee Wave 2013-14 Season Preview: Another Run at the Title

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With the uncertainty of the local NBA franchise’s future reaching billboard fundraiser-inspiring levels and the Brewers likely to have the quietest offseason the team has experienced in a decade to precede a rebuilding 2014 season, it’s not tough to overlook one Milwaukee athletic institution’s winning ways amid such a dire in-state sporting spectrum. Yet the Milwaukee Wave has quietly been a winning fixture in the underpublicized and immensely specific realm of professional indoor soccer going on 30 years.

Indoor soccer is far from a stable pastime in America, but the Wave is essentially the New York Yankees in terms of its longevity. Milwaukee was one of the six charter American Indoor Soccer Association teams in 1984. Though the other five charter squads are no more and league affiliation has changed multiple times along the way, the Wave is currently the longest operating professional soccer team in North America (and in the Major Indoor Soccer League, or “MISL,” franchise).

The Yankees comparison continues into the win column, as the Wave has more than 600 wins (in approximately 1,000 games) and six titles—including consecutive MISL Championships in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. Last season, the 21-5 Wave fell short of the three-peat after losing to the Missouri Comets in the MISL Semifinals. But the 2013-14 Milwaukee Wave—which is already 3-0—is poised to begin a new title run in its U.S. Cellular Arena opener with a locally renowned new owner in her first full season in control, the same legendary coach and a few Daughtry- and David Gruber-related promotions for good measure.

After being unceremoniously ousted from her position as Milwaukee County Parks director, Sue Black took her skills that proved invaluable in improving local parks to the position of Milwaukee Wave President and CEO in February. Not two months later, Black was named the club’s owner. Beyond ushering in a new wave of exposure due to public interest in Black’s next move, the talented community leader has made strides with the team’s Wave Of Hope foundation, a children’s charity which also features former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson as its co-chair.

Also on the foundation’s board is longtime Wave coach Keith Tozer. With 673 regular season victories (and more than 700 total), the 30-year coaching vet has more wins than anyone in North American indoor soccer history. In his 21st year with Milwaukee, Tozer could get his 500th Wave win at some point this season. As the best-known coach of his obscure sport, Tozer has amassed 27 winning seasons, nine Coach Of The Year awards, six MISL Championships (all with the Wave) and one Robert Haack commercial.

Speaking of advertisements, if fast-paced and high-scoring soccer played on a short field by top-tier athletes from nine different countries (including goalkeeper/reigning MISL Player Of The Week Nick Vorberg and a Brazilian midfielder simply known as “Pablo”) isn’t enough to sway you to come to the Cell alone, the Wave saw fit to offer occasional promotions during select games. Saturday’s home opener sees former “American Idol” finalist-turned quadruple platinum-selling buttrocker Daughtry playing a post-match concert. Other highlights include a foam noodle giveaway on New Year’s Eve courtesy of Bartolottas, a bobblehead of Canadian forward Ian Bennett to mark the 30th anniversary game Jan. 11 and a Wave bobblehead Feb. 16. Gruber Law Office is even getting in on the fun with T-shirt giveaway to coincide with the March 2 regular season home finale. And, yes, just one call—(414) 224-WAVE—is required to obtain tickets. That’s all!

The Milwaukee Wave plays its home opener against the Baltimore Blast at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to
MilwaukeeWave.com.