When he accepted the head coach position with the Las Vegas Legends, Doug Borgel wasn’t looking to be average.
But with the calendar about to flip to 2015, that’s exactly what the Legends are. Las Vegas is 5-5 and in fourth place of the Major Arena Soccer League’s six-team Pacific Division heading into today’s game against the Turlock Express at 7:05 p.m. at the Orleans Arena. Turlock is 6-5 after its 9-8 overtime win over Ontario on Saturday and is a half-game in front of Las Vegas in third place. San Diego leads the division at 6-2.
“You always imagine you’re going to be great,” Borgel said. “We thought we’d be 8-2, maybe 7-3 so if you told me earlier in the year that we’d be 5-5 at this point, I’d be concerned. But we’ve turned over our roster so much. We’ve made about a dozen moves. So I can see where we could be 5-5.
“Obviously, we’re not satisfied where we’re at in the standings. But I think we have a chance to be successful. It takes some time to build chemistry. We’ve never had the same starting team twice in a row this season. But we’ve got guys who are playing for each other more and it’s starting to pay off.”
There are signs that the Legends may be picking up the pace. They’ve won three straight, coming off wins in Saltillo and Monterrey, Mexico to get to .500. They’re starting to get more balanced scoring and support for Ivan Campos and Felipe Gonzalez, who have been the team’s primary 1-2 offensive punch (Campos has nine goals and 16 points, Gonzalez eight goals and 13 points). Veteran goalkeeper Zeke Sanchez has played well, posting a 5.88 goals-against average and a .735 save percentage, which not so coincidentally puts him in the middle of the pack statistically among MASL goalies.
“Ivan and Felipe are getting some help and we’re getting more people involved, which has helped us,” Borgel said. “We were so focused on being good defensively at the start of the season, we weren’t attacking the way we should have. And we did have some guys who were putting themselves before the team. But we’ve got a better mix now and it’s showing on the field. Zeke has been solid in goal for us and we’re playing better in front of him.”
And while the play on the field has yielded mid-pack results, the same can be said of the turnstiles. According to figures from the MASL’s website, the Legends have averaged just 1,333 fans for four games at the Orleans, which also puts Las Vegas near the middle of the MASL 22-team pack at No. 13 when it comes to attendance.
“I think we’ve created a little buzz with this three-game winning streak,” Borgel said of trying to get people to come out and see the Legends. “We’ve been through the toughest portion of our schedule and we’re hoping we can build on the momentum we’ve created. That’s why this game with Turlock is so important. We’re similar teams and we’re battling to move up in the division.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.