Legends coach wants team to be exciting

Doug Borgel has lived in Las Vegas long enough to know the litany of failed professional sports franchises.

The former UNLV soccer star was a member of one such ill-fated venture — the Las Vegas Dustdevils — who won an indoor soccer championship in 1995. So Borgel knows that sometimes even winning isn’t enough. That’s why he wants the Las Vegas Legends, the team he is coaching, to be exciting on the field and make a good first impression at 3:05 p.m. today when it makes its debut in the Major Arena Soccer League at Orleans Arena against Turlock.

For the last two years, the Legends competed in the rival Professional Arena Soccer League before being part of a merger to create the 23-team MASL, formerly known as the Major Indoor Soccer League.

The Legends will play a 20-game schedule, with three of its first five games against their chief rival, the San Diego Sockers.

“We’re excited to get going,” Borgel said. “We’ve been together for almost two months preparing and we need to get off to a fast start. We’ve got a tough early-season schedule and we need to get the fans excited.”

The Legends have made it to the champion­ship semifinals the last two years. But if they are to take the next step, it may come down to chemistry. Felipe Gonzalez, the 24-year-old forward who is in his third year with the franchise and played at Evergreen College in the Bay Area, said if everyone stays together and puts the team ahead of himself, great things are possible.

“The talent is there, no question,” Gonzalez said. “We have a nice mix of local guys and from other places and so far everyone is getting along great.

“The next step is to trust each other, both on and off the field. Sometimes that wasn’t the case the last two years and it may have cost us a chance to play for the championship. But the chemistry is good on this team so far and everyone respects Doug and what he’s doing.”

Chemistry will be a season-long challenge because Borgel knows the nature of the game is to constantly change the roster in an attempt to get better. Sometimes, the changes backfire when a player with superior skills might not fit in with the teammates and rifts develop in the locker room.

“I don’t think the roster will ever be set,” Borgel said. “Right now, we have a core of 14 to 18 guys who figure to be with us all year. But we’re getting inquiries all the time from players who want to play here, so anytime you can improve your team, you have to look at it.”

The Legends split two preseason games, beating the Mexico National Indoor Team 5-3 on Oct. 12 and losing to the U.S. National Indoor Team 7-6 last Sunday at Ontario, Calif.

Borgel said the team’s fitness level is good, owing to extensive training. But tactically, the Legends remain a work in progress because they are playing a different system than they have the last two years when team owner Meir Cohen was the coach.

“We’re still learning from each other,” Borgel said. “By no means are we a championship team at this point. But we’re probably ahead of the game compared to some of the other teams.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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