Major Arena Soccer league turning to M2 to fill roster vacancies

TAMPA, Fla. – The Major Arena Soccer League is turning to its partner M2 league to fill roster spots on several of the league’s franchises.

Most recently, Utica City FC signed three stars of the Cleveland Crunch – Kevin Blackwood, Sami Mutemwa and Gabriel Pewu – to contracts, while J.J. Oteze left the Amarillo Bombers to join the Dallas Sidekicks, all in the last two weeks.

“That’s what M2 is all about. We have stars that can develop their skills here. As our teams develop relationships with MASL clubs like we have seen this year, and when opportunities arise, those teams are looking more and more to us to provide that infusion of talent,” M2 Commissioner Chris Economides said. “While I know owners and coaches and fans will missing seeing these guys, they are all equally thrilled and proud to see them move up to the ultimate level.”

A native of Cleveland Heights, OH, Pewu competed for four seasons at Cleveland State University before beginning his professional career. He led the team in points for two seasons and was selected as first team All-Horizon League. He has scored 4 goals in 5 games with the Crunch this season. Last year, he appeared in three games and scored one goal. 

Mutemwa has posted 4 goals and 4 assists in 5 games with Cleveland. A Native of Johannesburg, South Africa, he played his collegiate soccer at Lake Erie College. He was named an All-American twice and a first-team All-Ohio and All-Conference selection. To cap it off, Mutemwa earned the male scholar-athlete of the year award in 2016. After college, he has played for the Cleveland Legacy (2017), Cleveland SC and the Akron Vulcans (NFPL). He appeared in 10 Crunch regular season games in the 2020-21 season, and had seven goals and four assists.  

Blackwood, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, the 26-year-old defender started his college career at Cleveland State University.. Blackwood was a member of the Cleveland State University Vikings where he excelled for three years as a starter while earning a selection to the Horizon League’s All-newcomer team (2014). Blackwood finished his collegiate career in Columbus as a starter (19 games) for Ohio State. While with the Buckeyes, Blackwood earned a spot on the Wolstein All-tournament team in 2017.

After finishing his collegiate playing days, Blackwood made various stops, playing for FC Tucson (United Soccer League [USL] League One), Cleveland SC (National Premier Soccer League [NPSL]) and the Akron Vulcans (National Futsal Premier League [NFPL]). So far in M2 this year, he has three goals and four assists in four games. Last season, in seven regular season starts, he netted 10 goals and had four assists.

Oteze, a native of Nigeria,  is no stranger to the MASL, having played for the Mesquite Outlaws who are currently on a one-year hiatus from league play. In 18 games in 2019-20 for the Texas team, he had five goals and four assists. 

His previous professional experience includes playing mid-field/defense for Racing De Cordoba in Argentina. Career highlights include representing Nigeria U23 team in 2015 and coming in second in the African Super 6 tournament. Oteze missed out on playing in the Olympics for his country due to a hamstring injury. The defender has appeared in four games for Amarillo so far this year after spending the pre-season with the Kansas City Comets. 

Two of the league’s top players from 2021-22 signed multi-year contracts with the Kansas City Comets this past summer as Ali Sodal from the Omaha Kings and Benji Molina from the Wichita Wings both inked deals. Sodal has appeared in three games so far, with two goals. Monreal was a finalist for M2 Most Valuable Player honors last season. 

A fomrer member of the Muskegon Risers is also having a big debut in the MASL with the league-leading Florida Tropics. Breno Oliveria has six goals and three assists in 10 games played with Florida, which has the highest scoring offense in the league.