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Meet and Greet with the Raptors, Part I

pictured: Ricardo Orozco, Ruben Ortiz, Ronaldo Rojas, Jez Chacon Rodriguez, Jesus "Chuy" Ortiz

Last night, your 2022/23 Raptors indoor team held a "meet and greet" for fans and members of the media before practice at the Alliant Energy Powerhouse. With only three short days before the exhibition match against the Omaha Kings, the turf was a whirlwind of activity as the players took photos, gave interviews to local sports media, chatted with fans, and did battle for roster positions.

This season marks the return of arena soccer to Cedar Rapids, and the players are eager to share their love of the game with a new generation of fans. "The indoor game is fast paced, with lots of goals" says forward / midfielder Jake Johnson. "There's constant motion, very high tempo. The ball stays in play off the walls, so it's very similar to hockey in that regard. If you're catching some good soccer vibes watching the World Cup right now, you'll love it."

Meet your Raptors: Jake Johnson

Johnson, a former standout for Cedar Rapids' Washington High School and Coe College, is a veteran indoor player and a multi-year member of the Raptors. "After college, I played for the original Cedar Rapids indoor team. I played outdoors as well, including last summer for the Raptors, and now I'm back indoors for this season."

"I grew up without anything like this," Johnson continues. "Soccer is kind of a universal language, so it's awesome that you now have this kind of upward mobility in the sport here locally."

The '22/'23 Raptors reflect that universality, with players hailing from several nations on the roster. Midfielder Orlando Clark, for example, is originally from Kingston, Jamaica. "I love Cedar Rapids," he says. "I've been here for five years now, and the people are just so welcoming and nice. I even like the winters!"

Meet your Raptors: Orlando Clark

Work continues tonight at the Powerhouse. Practice (6-8pm) is open to the public, so come on down and meet your team! The season kicks off with an exhibition match this Saturday at 6:30 pm. Wear your favorite team jersey, purchase $1 raffle tickets, and get ready to Run with the Raptors!

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