The Maryland Bays will merge with the Washington Stars and form a new team that most likely will be called the Maryland Bays in the 1991 American Professional Soccer League season, Bays owner John Liparini said yesterday.
"John [Koskinen, owner of the Washington Stars] and I have discussed the situation, and we're going to merge operations of the two teams," said Liparini. "We want to play in Columbia next season [Cedar Lane Park] and at a new stadium in Howard County in 1992."
The Bays and Stars are just two of several financially troubled APSL teams that discussed merging last weekend, when the league's 23 owners met in Boston.
There is speculation that the APSL will play with just 16 teams in 1991.
Liparini said the team would be called the Maryland Bays if it remains in Columbia, and he said first-year coach Pete Caringi would continue in that role.
"It's up to Howard County now. I'd say we're 70 percent certain of playing at Cedar Lane Park, and things seem encouraging for a new stadium," said Liparini before he flew home from Vancouver, British Columbia, where the Bays lost to the Vancouver 86ers, 3-2, in overtime Wednesday night for the North American professional outdoor soccer championship.
The Bays are asking that Howard County make significant improvements to Cedar Lane Park before next season to meet APSL specifications, and they're seeking a 10,000- to 15,000-seat stadium to be built by 1992.
According to Liparini, Caringi will select the players that will make up the team.
Liparini said several members of the 1990 Bays (20-6) will be a part of the new franchise.
"We have the national championship team, and we were three minutes away from winning the North American title, so I would say we have a lot of outstanding players who should be coming back next year," he said.
Liparini also said the plan is for the two front offices to merge as one in Columbia.
Liparini is expected to make a formal announcement of the merger plans Oct. 15 at a luncheon in Columbia.
Koskinen was less definite than Liparini on the details of the merger.
"There are still some issues to be decided," Koskinen said. "We need a commitment from Howard County by the end of October on improving Cedar Lane Park and building the new stadium. If we don't get it, we'll be playing at RFK Stadium."
Koskinen said that the improvements needed at Cedar Lane Park are increasing the seating capacity to 4,500, making the press box large enough to seat 12 instead of six people, installing a scoreboard and improving the playing surface.
On the field Wednesday night, the Bays took the Domenic Mobilio-led 86ers, who have won the past three Canadian Soccer League titles, to two 15-minute overtime periods before losing.
Mobilio, a Baltimore Blast star the past two seasons, scored the deciding goal from 20 feet with two minutes left in the second overtime period. It was his second goal of the game.
Mobilio took a pass from Dale Mitchell, whose trade to the Blast is in limbo, and beat goalkeeper Steve Powers for the winning score.
Mobilio was wide-open when Mitchell got him the ball.
"We had two chances to clear the ball before it bounced back to Mitchell," Bays striker Phillip Gyau said. "Chris [Reif] tried to kick the ball out, but he mis-kicked it and then Eric Hawkes tried to head it but he missed."
The Bays tied the score at 2-2 on Jean Harbor's goal with 30 minutes left in regulation play and came close to winning in the final minutes of regulation.
John Abe's shot bounced off the crossbar and Scott Cook had a shot cleared by defender Vlado Vanis.
Powers was superb in the goal for the Bays and was selected the team's MVP. Mobilio was named the MVP for Vancouver.
Caringi, who coached a group of no-name players close to the North American pro title, said: "I'm real proud of this team. We totally outplayed them in the second half but couldn't get the winning goal. We represented the United States well. Our guys are disappointed but nobody's head is down."