Omaha, Houston Can Clinch Division Titles Saturday

Will two of Major League Indoor Soccer's contentious division races come to an end this weekend or will they go down to the final weeks? The Omaha Kings and Houston Bolt can clinch their respective divisions on Saturday with a win.

It'll be easier said than done. The Kings just lost their first game of the season last Sunday to the Chicago Mustangs, who they will now face again on Saturday at home. The Houston Bolt will be hosting the Wichita Selection, who they have beaten twice in three meetings this year.

A win by Chicago or Wichita by certain margins could also shift the season series in their favor and make those teams prohibitive favorites to eventually hijack those division titles.

Saturday, March 11

Chicago Mustangs (7-2) at Omaha Kings (8-1)
Season Series: Omaha leads, 2-1 (Head-to-Head Goals: Omaha leads, 22-20)

The Omaha Kings won the first two games of the season series 9-8 and 6-4. That gave the Kings a two game lead in the division and Omaha was the last undefeated team, but Chicago has hung around and last week made their move with an 8-7 win over Omaha. These two teams are a combined 12-0 against the rest of the division, so this game could decide the Central Division no matter who wins, though Omaha would officially clinch with a win. 

Michael Marchionna leads a balanced Chicago offense with 19 points. Former Mexican National Team player Alonso "El Negro" Sandoval had five points in his return to the Mustangs. Omaha's Manuel Lira is a leading MVP candidate who leads MLIS in goals and points.

Wichita Selection (5-3) at Houston Bolt (8-3)
Season Series: Houston leads, 2-1 (Head-to-Head Goals: Houston leads, 26-24)

A win by the Houston Bolt will give them the Southern Division title outright. A win by the Wichita Selection might effectively give them the division. Wichita ends their schedule with three straight games against the 0-9 Austin Emerald.

Houston's Jeminson Mejia, Lucio Martinez, and Irvin Ramirez are all over the MLIS scoring leaderboards, while Radley Arnold (18 goals, 25 points), Trey Silmon (17 points), and Andric McGill (14 goals) pace the Selection.

Cleveland Crunch (6-3) at Cincinnati Swerve (3-4)
Season Series: Tied, 1-1

The Cincinnati Swerve have had a roller coaster season, but are still mathematically in the playoff race. It was the Swerve, after all, who pierced the Cleveland Crunch's veil with an early season upset. Cincinnati is 3-1 at home, and is led by Fin Sallows (16 points in four games). Cleveland is led by Admir Suljevic's 35 points (second in MLIS). Mikey Derezic has missed four games and could be a sleeping giant for the Crunch.

Illinois State Line Falcons (1-6) at Brew City United (0-7)
Season Series: Rockford leads, 1-0

The Illinois State Line Falcons haven't been able to finish games and Brew City United hasn't been able to finish period. Winless United is averaging only three goals per game. The Falcons only win of the season was a 10-4 rout of Milwaukee on February 4.  Rockford is led by Damian "El Tanque" Bolanos (13 points in seven games), and former Chicago Mustangs and Monterrey Flash star Omar Santillan.

Sunday, March 12

Wichita Selection at Austin Emerald (0-9)
Season Series: Wichita leads, 1-0

If the Wichita Selection wins their game Saturday, their road to the Southern Division title goes through the winless Austin Emerald. Austin has given up a league-leading 13.22 goals per game and has not scored more than six goals in a game. In their only meeting so far, Wichita won 12-5 on February 11.

Rapid City FC (7-2) at Cincinnati Swerve
Season Series: Grand Rapids leads, 2-0

Rapid City FC has had two good results against the Cincinnati Swerve so far this year, including an 8-1 win in the MLIS inaugural game. Their last meeting was a 9-2 Grand Rapids win. Rapid City had been led all year by Nermin Crnkic (24 points), but midseason acquisitions of TJ Ifaturoti (17 points in five games), Elmedin Zukic (18 points in five games), Daire O'Riordan (12 points in four games) and Alex Mendez (10 points in two games) have fueled their four-game winnings streak. Likewise Jay Toric (5-0) has taken the reins as Rapid City's starting goalkeeper.