Sports

‘Whatever you know about outdoor soccer, forget it.’ Arena soccer hits Boise

Brian Farber, who will play for the U.S. National Arena Soccer Team in Boise on Friday, was the MVP of the Major Arena Soccer League for the 2008-09 season. The Americans play Brazil at 7 p.m. at CenturyLink Arena.
Brian Farber, who will play for the U.S. National Arena Soccer Team in Boise on Friday, was the MVP of the Major Arena Soccer League for the 2008-09 season. The Americans play Brazil at 7 p.m. at CenturyLink Arena. Courtesy of San Diego Sockers

Idaho’s Brian Farber has some advice for fans planning to attend the U.S. National Arena Soccer Team’s international friendly against Brazil on Friday at CenturyLink Arena.

“Whatever you know about outdoor soccer, forget it,” said Farber, a Sandpoint High graduate who played on the United States’ World Cup champion indoor team in 2015. “It’s basically a completely different sport.”

Arena soccer shares many similarities with hockey, resulting in a game that is faster, rougher and higher scoring than traditional outdoor soccer.

For starters, turf will be put over the Steelheads’ rink, but the boards will remain in place and the glass still will be up on each end behind the goals.

And instead of yellow cards, players are first issued blue cards — which come with a two-minute stay in the penalty box and create power-play (or man-advantage) opportunities for the opponent.

Farber says physical contact is more prominent in the indoor game.

“It is actually really a physical sport. You’ll see a lot of pushing, pulling, a lot more grabbing than typical outdoor soccer,” Farber said. “You’ll see the referees still try to keep the players protected with the blue card. If somebody gets a little bit too violent, they’re going in the penalty box.”

Five players and a goalkeeper can be on the turf at once, and substitutions are done on the fly, just like in hockey. Games feature four 15-minute quarters and a halftime intermission. It’s not unusual to see double-digit scoring.

“It’s just a different strategy. There’s a lot more excitement going. Every play going either direction can turn into an opportunity to score a goal. You get a lot more action,” said Farber, who played at Oregon State and spent time in Major League Soccer with the Portland Timbers, Houston Dynamo and Minnesota United.

“The fans are super close. You can high-five a fan sitting on the boards. It just seems like you are connected to the fans more, and things can happen so quickly that fans can’t take their eye off the ball or they are going to miss something.”

Eric Trapp, CenturyLink Arena’s general manager, said nearly 3,000 tickets have been sold for Friday’s match, which begins at 7 p.m. The game was announced July 26.

The Boise game is the second stop for the American and Brazilian squads on a four-day, three-game tour of the West. The teams will play in Ontario, Calif., on Thursday and Salt Lake City on Sunday in preparation for the World Minifootball Federation World Cup in October in Tunisia.

Farber and some of his U.S. teammates also play in the Major Arena Soccer League, a 19-team professional indoor league with squads in the U.S. and Mexico. The Pacific division comprises teams from three California cities – San Diego, Turlock and Ontario – and Tacoma, Wash.

Boise’s CenturyLink Arena could be a good fit for a future MASL team.

“This was an exciting opportunity to bring some top-tier athletes to Boise and give Idaho sports fans a taste of something new,” Trapp said. “We expect it to be a great game, and it may help us determine if bringing an indoor soccer team to Idaho is a good prospect for the future.”

Rachel Roberts: 208-377-6422, @byrachelroberts

If you go

What: United States vs. Brazil, indoor soccer friendly

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: CenturyLink Arena, Boise

Tickets: $15 and up, call 208-331-TIXS or visit centurylinkarenaboise.com

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