Just as important as the Wings signing reigning Major Indoor Soccer League MVP Geison Moura is getting him away from their top rival, Missouri.
Moura did damage against every MISL team last season, when he notched a league-leading 90 points. But the 26-year-old midfielder was particularly tough against the Wings, scoring a goal in each of six meetings and totaling 25 points.
Missouri went 4-2 against the Wings in 2011-12, and three of the Comets’ wins came by three points or less. Poaching Missouri’s best player could help the Wings narrow the difference between themselves and the team that claimed the second and final playoff spot in the Central Division last season.
“No doubt it closes the gap,” Wings coach LeBaron Hollimon said. “We ended the year incredibly defensively, but we couldn’t score goals. We had a hard time putting points on the board. You bring in a guy who blew up the league last year, even if he has half the year he had last year, it’s still going to be good for us because it’s somebody who can put points on the board.”
The Wings, in their inaugural season, scored 78 fewer points than Missouri and 94 fewer than Milwaukee, which won its second straight MISL title after winning the Central. Their defense was more respectable, allowing the fourth-most goals in the seven-team league and faring better than that of Rochester, a playoff team.
Wichita was hampered by injuries and the loss of Chile Farias, their top offseason signing who was kicked off the team in December. That left Jamar Beasley as the team’s only proven scoring threat, and teams treated him as such by defending him heavily and shutting him down.
Beasley’s struggles enabled players such as Bryan Perez and Kevin Ten Eyck to gain valuable experience as scorers. Adding Moura, ex-Rochester forward Andrew Hoxie and Miguel Ferrer, Norfolk’s leading scorer, to Beasley may solve Wichita’s offensive woes.
“We were holding teams to eight, nine, 10 points but we couldn’t win,” Hollimon said. “We needed some offensive thrust to go with our team defense, and we needed experience. You look at the guys we’ve signed and … we’ve added the two main ingredients I felt we needed to add to compete better.”
Financial terms of the two-year contract were not disclosed by Hollimon or Wings general manager John Blazek, but Hollimon said the team made a more substantial offer than Missouri. Hollimon also said that Moura’s contract does not make him the league’s highest-paid player.
Moura, whose first name is pronounced “Jason,” was under contract with the Comets through August, and though he expressed interest in playing for the Wings, the parties couldn’t make official contact until Sept. 1.
“Our negotiations never really went back-and-forth like that,” Hollimon said. “What we offered seemed to be better than what (Missouri) offered. I don’t think it was from a pure financial standpoint; I’d like to think it was because of the type of team we’re assembling and the program we’re putting in place.”