WICHITA — It was 40 years ago, the first incarnation of professional arena soccer came to town in the first Wichita Wings.
The third version of the Wings and fourth arena team to play in the area made its home debut Saturday night with a 13-0 win over the Colorado Rumble at in Major Arena Soccer League 2 play.
“It was awesome — the energy, the fan support,” said Wings player Kevin Ten Eyck, who was credited with three goals and an assist. “People were loud and a lot of the seats were filled. That’s the kind of thing we feed off of. We want to come out here and perform for the people who are spending their hard-earned money trying to support us. We want to make them proud. Wichita is a hard-working city and we want to be a hard-working team.”
“My guys energy was great, the building was great. I can’t complain,” said Wichita coach Roger Downing. “It wasn’t that difficult (coming together). We have four or five guys out there that have played indoors. Some of them have been playing for eight years. To have them mentor the younger guys has been a big advantage for us. It’s not just me. It’s four or five other guys all preaching the same thing.”
The team has been put together in the last two months since the creation of the team was announced in October.
“The biggest challenge is picking a set 15 or 16 guys,” Downing said. “We have 25 guys battling in practice. My hardest job is picking which guys are deserving to play. They are all competing every night. Our work rate is extremely high behind the ball. Once we get a few pieces, we’re going to be fantastic. We plan on winning the league and move up to MASL 1.”
The MASL2 is a second division league, behind the parent MASL, which the second Wings and B-52s used to play in before each team folded.
“The league is competitive,” Downing said. “There are a few teams still trying to find themselves, which is why we’re at such an advantage. We have guys who played played professionally indoor.”
Ten Eyck played with the second incarnation of the Wings, from 2011 to 2013. He also played with the Wichita B-52s, which played from 2014 to 2016 season; and FC Wichita, a fourth-division outdoor team in the National Premier Soccer League.
“This is the second-division of indoor soccer,” Ten Eyck said. “There is another division. There are some teams in this league that can compete with the teams in the first division. They might not have the financial backing to do it. We’ll play some good teams and get some good challenges. Our goal is to win a championship. We don’t want to look too far ahead and we want to take it one game at a time. We have to get guys healthy. Games are going to come quick and fast.”
Wichita jumped out 2-0 in the first five minutes of play and led 5-0 at the half. A Colorado shot was just inches wide, bouncing off the side boards as the first-half clock expired, about the best scoring chance for the 0-4 Rumble.
“A lot of it was coming off of set pieces,” Ten Eyck said. “With set pieces, about 70 percent of the time, it was a goal. That’s where I scored two or three of my goals from. Defensively, you can’t make those mistakes to give a team those opportunities. We capitalized on them.”
Complete stats have not been posted. David Lucio was credited with two goals and two assists.
Wichita, 3-0, returns home at 7 p.m. Saturday against the Amarillo Bombers.