The third division of professional indoor soccer has announced the creation of a new five-team division, including a team from Baltimore that will be affiliated with the Baltimore Blast.
The Baltimore Kings will be part of the Eastern Division in Major Arena Soccer League 3, or M3, the third tier in a growing pyramid system of indoor soccer teams.
The other divisions are M2 and the Major Arena Soccer League, which includes the Blast.
“We’ve tried to create the first true pyramid system in indoor soccer. We’re slowly getting there,” said M2 commissioner Chris Economides, who is heading up the league’s expansion. “We want to open up new avenues for players and ownership groups.”
Economides credited the Blast and owner Ed Hale for supporting the endeavor.
“Getting the Blast’s blessing and somebody of their pedigree to help with the announcement, obviously it’s huge,” he said. “If we all work together and you have some of the M1 teams that are buying into it, then obviously that’s going to help with the process tremendously.”
With Economides’ guidance, M3 is “ready for the launch pad,” said Hale, the longtime owner of the Blast. “And we are excited to be a small part of it.”
The Kings are an independent professional soccer team founded in 2015 and began playing regular games in 2017. In 2020, the team played in the minor-league Pro Soccer Alliance. The organization also includes women’s and men’s U-23 teams and a semi-pro futsal team.
“As a kid I used to have my birthday parties at Baltimore Blast games; I went to Blast summer camps,” said Josh Danza, Kings team president and captain. “Growing up in the Baltimore area, knowing how long the Blast had been around, it’s always been a group that I’ve looked up to.”
Danza, a former Towson men’s soccer player, created the team to give him and other area players a chance to compete at a high level after college or between pro seasons.
He sees the partnership as a two-way street that could help unknown players get discovered and provide the Blast with a direct pipeline of local players to bolster the squad.
“Just seeing all the success [the Blast] have had on the field, if there’s a way that we could just slightly help in any way, even if it’s sending one player over a couple years, then that would be a success on our part,” Danza said.
The four other teams in the Eastern Division are the Philadelphia Spartans, Northern VA FC, Fredericksburg Fire FC and VA Marauders FC.
M3 plans to start playing its 10-game season in January 2022 followed by a regional playoff with the potential for a national final that would include the teams from M3’s Great Lakes and Midwest Divisions. The Kings have not announced where they will play home games yet.
M2 was established four years ago. With the expansion of M3, there will be European-style promotion and relegation between the two leagues, Economides said.
In that system, a handful of teams that finish at the top of M3 would be promoted to M2 for the following season while the same number of teams who finish at the bottom of M2 would be relegated to M3.
“Hopefully someday if these new ownership groups and franchisees do well they can aspire to go to an even higher level,” Economides said.
The Blast will kick off its 40th season in December. Its regular-season home opener is scheduled for Dec. 4 at 6:05 p.m. Fans will be in attendance for the first time since March 2020.
Note: A previous version indicated that Hale had owned the team since the initial iteration began in 1980. That has been fixed.
Photo Credit: Luke Jackson/PressBox