Strykers Sign Attacking Ace Lucas Roque

by Gunnar Berndt

Forward brings wealth of experience after decade of success with Baltimore

Ontario, Calif. — The Empire Strykers have secured the services of Brazilian-American forward Lucas Roque for the 2023-24 Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) campaign and beyond. With the Strykers roster getting significantly younger this off-season, Roque provides a proven track record of offensive productivity as well as a veteran presence and winning mentality, having previously spent more than a decade as one of the top performers on the mighty Baltimore Blast.

Empire’s latest signing not only possesses rare attacking flair. He is also unique for having been with a single club over the course of his entire indoor career. Intriguingly, Roque’s first time donning Strykers colors at Ontario’s Toyota Arena will be against none other than his previous team, the Blast. Tickets to the December 15 clash may be purchased here.

“Lucas has been a great player in the league for years, really establishing himself and winning silverware along the way,” said Empire’s new head coach, Paul Wright. “He was a prime target for us because we felt that we needed his presence and leadership inside our locker room, which so far had a lot of talent but less experience. We’re thrilled to be adding such an important piece to the puzzle.”

Born and raised near Sao Paolo, Brazil, Roque spoke no English when he moved with his parents to Florida at age 13. But that didn’t keep him from expressing himself, as he soon turned heads lacing up for Boca Raton’s Team Boca youth club and Coconut Creek’s Monarch High School.

Roque would go on to play one season at Perimeter College in Georgia before trying his luck in Spain. While there, he had a chance to train with storied FC Barcelona and befriended famous Brazilian right back Juliano Belletti, who arranged for Roque to return to his native country and join the youth ranks of topflight outfit Portuguesa. After about two years with the Sao Paulo-based club, the talented striker began to doubt whether a move to the senior squad was in the cards, prompting him to return stateside and all but give up on his pro soccer dream.

Back in the U.S., Roque competed in a footvolley tournament and met Baltimore Blast defender Adriano Dos Santos, who convinced him to attend the MASL side’s open tryouts. The then 24-year-old striker would earn a spot on the roster and enjoy immediate success in 2012-13, his rookie season, proving instrumental in Baltimore reaching the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) finals against the Missouri Comets. In the deciding game of the final series, he scored on a spectacular bicycle kick to clinch the title for his team.

Throughout the 2015-16 MASL postseason, Roque put on a true masterclass, which he crowned by bagging five goals and four assist across two games in the final against the Sonora Suns. The attacker’s heroics not only earned him his second championship with the Blast but also the award for playoff MVP.

While subsequent seasons presented Roque with challenges in the form of injury (ACL tear in 2017-18) and the Covid-19 pandemic (in 2019-20 and 2021), the veteran forward proved he had lost none of his ability when he led all of Baltimore’s goal-scorers in both 2021-22 and 2022-23 (26 and 30 regular season goals, respectively). Last season, Roque dominated the Blast roster in total attacking points with 47.

The 35-year-old eagerly shared his thoughts on joining the Strykers and on the upcoming MASL campaign.

“I feel really excited,” he said. “After getting to the later stages of my career with just one team, I now get to experience a new start and a totally different chapter. It seems like there’s a good mix on our roster of young, athletic players and a few more experienced guys like me. I really think we can help the younger guys while they’ll keep us running hard. I love scoring goals, but mostly I love to do whatever the team needs me to do. My number one objective is to make the playoffs. Then anything can happen.”

Lucas Roque and the Empire Strykers kick off their MASL regular season with a pair of road games in Mexico, as they face the Chihuahua Savage on November 24 and the Monterrey Flash on November 26, followed by a trip to take on the St. Louis Ambush on December 9. Empire’s home opener against Baltimore at Ontario’s Toyota Arena is set for December 15.