The cliché is supposed to go, “There is a new sheriff in town,” but on Saturday, it will be a new team with a number of familiar faces that is in town as the Mesquite Outlaws play their home opener, against the Dallas Sidekicks of all teams. Leading the way are a few key Sidekicks legends, followed by a number of former Sidekicks regulars as the Dallas MetroPlex’s newest professional indoor soccer team kicks things off Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the Mesquite Arena.
But this is not your typical expansion team. On the field, Major Arena Soccer League veterans like Jamie Lovegrove, VcMor Eligwe, Mike Jones and Cody Ellis lead a group of former Sidekicks who will call Mesquite home this season. Another MASL veteran who played for the Sidekicks under Tatu, Shaun David, also returns to the game and is joined by one of the young stars from last year’s Sidekicks team, Anthony Powell.
In addition to those experienced players and coaches, the Outlaws have added World Cup veteran and former FC Dallas midfielder, Ramon Nunes, to their roster. On the bench, Tatu, Nick Stavrou, and Sagu will be coaching the team. All three have had their numbers retired by the Sidekicks for their time with the organization and now face those same Sidekicks in their first game with the Outlaws.
The game is the first of four matches between the cross-town rivals. While some may hesitate to call the two organizations rivals before they have played a game, it seems unlikely that there will not be some extra energy between the teams considering the history between the players and their coaching staffs.
With the experience that the Outlaws bring, they will likely not play like a traditional expansion team, but there are enough new faces that it will be difficult to predict how the team will fare in their inaugural season. They will face a Sidekicks team that returns Cameron Brown and Juan Gamboa, among other veterans, but roster turnover will also make the Sidekicks an unknown commodity.
The league has made some structural changes as well, as they are now in two conferences rather than a number of small divisions. The Western Conference returns a number of old Sidekicks foes, including the Monterrey Flash, San Diego Sockers, Tacoma Stars. The Flash have started brightly this season after making the MASL final last year and will be the Outlaws’ second opponent on December 4.