The inaugural Major Arena Soccer League season will include 23 teams competing in four divisions — Eastern, Central, Southern and Pacific.
The Blast will play in the Eastern with the Detroit Waza Flo, Harrisburg Heat, Rochester Lancers and Syracuse Silver Knights.
Here's a closer look at the Blast's division opponents.
Detroit Waza Flo
Coach: Costea Decu
Last season: 10-5, second in the PASL's Eastern Division
Outlook: The least familiar division opponent for the Blast, Waza Flo started in the PASL in 2008 and emerged as a perennial power the past three years. In 2011-12 and 2012-13, the team won Eastern Division titles and reached the championship series before falling to second place last year with an opening round playoff exit. Much of the team's core returns, led by midfielder and leading scorer Miki Djerisilo. Player-coach Decu is a sound defender and regular producer on offense with Joe Kapinos reliable in goal. When the Blast visits Detroit, the game will be played using the old PASL's 1-point scoring system. In Baltimore, the teams will use the multi-point scoring system from the old MISL.
Coach: Tarik Walker
Last season: 4-12, fifth in the PASL's Eastern Division
Outlook: Blast Hall of Fame forward and fan favorite Walker enters his first season as coach for the Heat, which won just four games in the PASL last season and failed to reach the playoffs. The team returns its tops three scorers from last season in Tom Mellor (18 goals, 19 assists), Ken Fultz (21, 5) and Tyler Witmer (13, 7) and adds midfielder Patrick Thompson from the MISL's Pennsylvania Roar. In addition to Walker, the Heat has a strong Baltimore influence on defense with Loyola Blakefield grad Zach Sell and veteran Val Teixeira, who coaches girls soccer at Notre Dame Prep. The new league reunites the Blast with one of its biggest rivals as the teams once played together in the National Professional Soccer League and MISL.
Coach: Doug Miller
Last season: 6-14, fifth in the MISL
Outlook: Miller, a former Loyola University star who completed a lengthy and successful playing career, takes the helm with hopes of making the Lancers a contender. The team, has a lot of ground to cover to catch up with the league's better teams. Forward Mauricio Salles (14 goals, 8 assists for 41 points) and midfielder Gary Boughton (17, 5, 40) return and the additions of former Milwaukee Wave standouts Carlos Munoz and Marco Terminesi and the Missouri Comets' Alex Megson provide a major boost to the offense. In goal, the Lancers returned Marc Sotile and added Brazilian native Marcelo Moreira. Last season in the MISL, the Blast went 4-0 and outscored the Lancers, 70-15.
Syracuse Silver Knights
Coach: Tommy Tanner
Last season: 12-8, fourth in the MISL