APSL-U.S. Federation feud could hurt World Cup club


December 02, 1990|By BILL FREE

The feuding in soccer never seems to stop.

The fire between the Major Soccer League and the United States Soccer Federation was doused in Baltimore last summer when the longtime indoor and outdoor foes announced a new spirit of cooperation leading to the 1994 World Cup.

But another feud has broken out in the outdoor soccer ranks that could prevent the United States from fielding its strongest team when the World Cup comes to this country in 3 1/2 years.

The outdoor American Professional Soccer League, whose champions are the Maryland Bays, is at war with the U.S. Soccer Federation.

A source close to the USSF said last week: "There is internal strife between the APSL and the USSF in regard to the use of APSL players during their season by the U.S. national team. An emergency meeting was held last week in Denver in an attempt to bring the two parties together, but things might be even worse after that meeting."

According to the source, the primary fight involves the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks and the USSF.

"The U.S. national team wants three or four players from San Francisco, and [Blackhawks owner] Van Voorhis doesn't want to give them up," the source said.

The outdoor in-fighting is bad news for MSL commissioner Earl Foreman, who has been named by USSF president Alan Rothenberg as chairman of a 16-member committee to study the future of outdoor professional soccer in the United States.

Foreman and the committee, which includes Baltimore Blast owner Ed Hale and John Koskinen, whose Washington Stars recently merged with the Bays, hope to form a major Professional Outdoor Soccer League by 1992.

Federation Internationale de Football Association, the world's soccer governing body, has mandated that the United States have a major outdoor pro league in place by 1992 to play host to the World Cup.

Foreman wouldn't comment on the differences but said: "I'm going to try and bridge the gulf between the two sides. The ironic thing is there was concern that indoor soccer would be the problem [in helping field best possible World Cup team]."


The MSL will have 15 games televised by SportsChannel America this season.

The first year of the two-year cable TV contract will include 10 regular-season Sunday games billed as the Game of the Week, the 12th MSL All-Star Game Feb. 13 at 8:35 p.m. from Kansas City's Kemper Arena and four playoff games.

All games are live except a March 10 game between the Blast and San Diego Sockers in San Diego. That game will be played Saturday night and shown on tape delay the next day at 4:05 p.m., Baltimore time.

All Sunday Games of the Week will be shown at 4:05 p.m. The TV schedule begins Feb. 3, with the Wichita Wings playing at the Kansas City Comets.

The rest of the regular-season schedule: Feb. 10 -- Cleveland at Tacoma; Feb. 17 -- Wichita at Dallas; Feb. 24 -- Kansas City at Cleveland; March 3 -- Tacoma at St. Louis; March 10 -- Baltimore at San Diego; March 17 -- Cleveland at Dallas; March 24 -- Wichita at Cleveland; March 31 -- St. Louis at San Diego; April 7 -- St. Louis at Wichita.


Even though the Blast is the defending Eastern Division champion, it will be the only MSL team to appear just once on the SportsChannel Sunday Game of the Week.

All other teams will be shown at least twice. The Wichita Wings and Cleveland Crunch have four appearances, the most by any team.

John Griffin, MSL director of communications who put the TV schedule together, said Baltimore's inability to start its Sunday home games at 4:05 prevented the Blast from being televised more often on the national cable channel.

"Earl Foreman told me to try and get each team on at least once at home and away," said Griffin. "But Baltimore's two Sunday home games in February and March start at 2:05 and can't be switched to 4:05 because the Skipjacks play at 7:05."

Griffin said there was a possibility the Blast-Tacoma Stars game Feb. 24 in Tacoma, Wash., could have been put on the Game of the Week schedule. But that was ruled out because Baltimore was playing in San Diego the night before and would have had to play in Tacoma the next day at 1:05 p.m., Tacoma time.


When Hale announced that he was changing the Blast uniform colors from red and yellow to dark blue and light gray this season, the happiest man in town was Sparrows Point High School principal Nick Spinnato.

Dark blue and light gray are the Sparrows Point colors, and Spinnato said it was another example of Hale (a graduate of Sparrows Point) not forgetting where he came from.

"Usually our kids can only dream about millionaires the caliber of an Ed Hale," Spinnato said. "But when Ed comes to our school and delivers a graduation address like he did last year [Class of 1989], our students can see a millionaire in the flesh. They can see him standing in the same place he stood the day he graduated and started out in life. He's given our students hope for a successful life."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.