Of all the players who left FC Dallas this offseason, Bruno Guarda is surprisingly the first to play for a new professional club. Mr. Guarda is now a member of the Dallas Sidekicks of the Professional Indoor Soccer League. There is no mention of the signing on the front page of the Sidekicks website, but he does appear in the league's statistics page, and when I reached out to the Sidekicks on Twitter (@gosidekicks) requesting clarification, they sent the following reply:
@OptaHunt Our contracts are technically on a per game basis. We expect Bruno to be with us through the end of the season!
The Sidekicks regular season runs through February 23rd, with playoffs to follow. Presumably, Guarda could leave the team if a better offer were to pop up, but that doesn't appear to be plan A.
This is certainly an unusual turn in the career of a young man who was once considered a promising MLS prospect. On July 28th, 2008 FC Dallas traded 2009 2nd and 3rd round draft picks and allocation money for teh SMU standout, and he started 9 of the 12 matches remaining in that season, and subbing into the other 3. His playing time dried up quickly after that, and he averaged only 280 minutes per season from 2009 through 2012. Guarda was always kind of a tweener, and was never good enough in attack or defense to unseat David Ferreira or Daniel Hernandez (both of whom arrived in 2009) for playing time.
Perhaps Guarda is simply taking advantage of an opportunity to collect a paycheck while staying in DFW for a couple months while finishing college. Maybe he's just trying to stay fit while his agent seeks out opportunities in MLS, NASL, or USL Pro. It seems unlikely that a 27-year-old would make a permanent move from MLS to the PISL, but that's a possible outcome, too.
Also of note (and I'm sure indoor soccer fans will think I'm burying the lead here), the Sidekicks snapped the longest winning streak in US professional sports history yesterday when they beat the San Diego Sockers in overtime, 6-5. The Sockers had won 48 in a row, dating back to December of 2010. The streak probably exaggerates the Sockers' strengths, though, since there a lot of very bad teams in the PISL.
Still, it's an impressive result for Dallas, who top the Central division at 10-2. They haven't clinched a playoff spot yet, but that seems like a formality since their record would indicate the Sidekicks are one of the five best teams in the league. Hard to be sure, though, because I can't find anything about the PISL playoff format online.
Overall, indoor soccer is an odd entity. Some people are passionate about it, but when I attended a game a few weeks ago, I came away with an odd mix of excitement and confusion. The a playing surface one sixth the size of most MLS pitches makes both goals at threat most of the time. But why do they play music through the stadium loudspeaker non-stop? It's exciting to see players get checked into the boards with no whistle from the ref. But, what is supposed to constitute a reckless foul, and why does is the offending party shown a blue card?
Some of this made more sense after skimming the Sidekicks website's "Soccer Terms" page, but some of it is still mystifying. The sport has a lot of action and isn't a bad way to spend an offseason evening, especially if you take along a son or daughter with a short attention span, who seem to be the main target audience.