Last night, Mayor Bonnie Crombie joined Gladiator Sports Media Entertainment on stage at Celebration Square for a very special announcement; Mississauga is joining Mexico and the United States in the Major Arena Soccer League!

Hundreds of people gathered at 300 City Centre Drive for a variety of mini-games, music, and meets and greets, prior to the big announcement. There were dozens of excited children playing soccer in front of the big screen, and lots of adults mingling and shaking hands. Even Mayor Crombie got in on the action and kicked a few soccer balls, but quickly abandoned her fledgling new career when she almost struck a child!

Finally, around 7pm, Alf De Blasis took to the podium to introduce us to Mississauga’s newest professional sports franchise. Blasis is a media industry veteran, who has worked for beINSports, Rogers Sportsnet, TSN Radio, and more. Blasis was excited to announce that “Mississauga is the first city in Canada to host a pro club in the Major Arena Soccer League.”

Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Councilman John Kovac, Councilwoman Pat Satio, Arena Soccer League Commissioner Joshua Schaub, Canadian Arena Soccer Association President Joe Vaccaro, and founder of Gladiator Sports Media Serge Giancola, all took to the stage next.

Mayor Crombie stepped to the podium and said the inspiration for the new Mississauga MASL team, came when Joe Vaccaro and Serge Giancola told her they were going to be hosting an international friendly last year, she was hooked on the idea. Mayor Crombie said she is excited and proud of the new association, and believes this to be “the start of something huge!”

Interestingly, Crombie also stated that she and her fellow city officials are exploring building a large new multi-use sports arena, which would be used to host the Canadian Premier League, cricket, field hockey, and even a World Cup 2026 match! The council recently approved the first steps in making this new stadium a reality, although they have yet to settle on a location. We’re told to look forward to more news on this exciting development in the coming years.

MASL Commissioner Schaub was next to the podium, followed by John Kovac, Pat Satio, and the introduction of some of the new team’s office officials, Ram Mustafa, Paul Jackson, Peter Kovacs, and team GM and Coach, Philip Ionadi. Each speaker talked about their excitement in bringing the Major Arena Soccer League to Mississauga, and how they believe it will be a very big deal in the coming years. Schaub even stated that the MASL games are averaging 10,000 fans, so of course we’d like to compete with those impressive numbers!

Some surprising guest appearances came next, in the form of Sportsnet’s James Sharman and Craig Forrest, and TSN’s Steven Caldwell. Sharman is a former Canadian goalkeeper who played for West Ham and Chelsea, and Caldwell is a Scotsman who played for Birmingham City and Toronto F.C. The three analysts/commentators made some jokes as well as congratulated the city for making a huge stride in popularising soccer in Canada. They also sold the audience on indoor soccer, by stressing the speed, dynamism, and technicality of the sport – not that the die-hard fans in attendance needed any convincing.

Alf De Basis then returned to the stage, as it was time to reveal the name of the team and the logo. A banner then unfurled behind everyone, as “Sunrise” from ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ blares over the speakers, on the stage to reveal the name as Mississauga MetroStars. The MetroStars will join Utica City, Harrisburg, and Baltimore Blast, in the Eastern Division of the MASL.

The MetroStars are the 17th team in the MASL, but they are far from the last. As MASL Commissioner Schaub said, the Major Indoor Soccer League is on the rise. While the sport took a dip in popularity in the 1980’s, it’s been steadily making a comeback and it surging again. As such, the plan is for more Canadian teams to join the league, including Ottawa, Calgary, Montreal, and Vancouver. So over the next 10 years, indoor soccer could become one of Canada’s biggest sports.

Next it was time to reveal the first 12 players signed to the MetroStars, one of which is a Canadian soccer legend! The team consists of Adrian Cann, Anthony Osorio, Ignacio Velazquez, Josip Keran, Joshua Paredes, Lerohne Young, Luis Rocha, Matthew Rios, Martinho Dumevski, Marco Rodriguez, Sina Khandan. Each player walked out on to the stage and took an ovation from the fans, before the big announcement. After a quick video package and some music, out came Canadian soccer legend, Dwayne De Rosario!

De Rosario, born in raised in Scarborough, joined the San Jose Earthquakes in 2004, and won back-to-back Goal of the Year awards. After a few more teams in the MLS, De Rosario joined Toronto FC in 2009, and became team captain 2010. De Rosario is the 6th leading goal scorer in MLS history, 4-time MLS Cup Champion, 4-time Canadian player of the year, and Canada’s all-time leading goal scorer. He truly is a legend of the game, and brings some incredible star power to the MetroStars.

Rosario gave a short speech in which he thanked those in attendance for welcoming him to the city, and expressed his excitement for getting the season underway. He later stressed the magnitude of the event and what it means for the future. “This is a great step forward in the right direction for this sport and this country. Giving kids another opportunity, another platform to pursue their dreams and passion with arena soccer. It is an honour for me to be a part of something special, part of the growth and development of this game.”

Finally, as night descended upon Celebration Square, the team posed for photos with the city officials to end the ceremony and usher in a new era of sports in Mississauga.

The MetroStars will be playing at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre, which can be found at Rose Cherry Place, and holds over 5,000 people. The league will begin in December of this year. As Sportnet’s James Sharman said, Canada now has a soccer team to support all year round, come rain or snow! So get excited for winter, buy a scarf, and generate a wave of fandom for the new Mississauga MetroStars!