Major Soccer League commissioner Earl Foreman hopes the Blast's match in England next month is the forerunner of further international competition.
At a news conference yesterday, Foreman revealed that this, indeed, is only the first step. Others will soon be announced, Foreman said.
"We hope the Blast's visit to Manchester Dec. 4 will be the beginning of an international relationship for the entire league," Foreman said. "This is only the opening salvo. More announcements will be made next week."
In a contest that has been six years in the planning, the Blast will play a one-game challenge match against Oldham Athletic Dec. 4. It will be the first Transatlantic challenge match indoors and will be part of the English Football League's annual 20-team indoor tournament for a prize fund of $485,000.
The game will pit the Blast against England's top second-division club. The Football League, organizer of this first Anglo-American competition, expects the challenge will become an annual event.
"People ask me if I'm happy to be going home," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper, who is from Blackpool, England. "But Baltimore is my home and I'm proud of it.
"This will be great for the city. We're an old city with great values. We have much in common with Manchester."
Cooper is one of four Englishmen who will represent the Blast abroad. The others are Billy Ronson, the team's leading scorer; Mark Mettrick and Dominic Feltham.
"It's great for me to go back to England," Ronson said, "and play indoor soccer and show my family how I earn my living now.
"We should win this game. Indoor soccer is our game. They play outdoor soccer over there. This will allow English people to see how the American game is played. The English were surprised when it was announced that the World Cup will be played in America. They didn't take U.S. soccer seriously. This will help in that regard."