When the Blast arrived in Manchester, England, yesterday, midfielder Billy Ronson requested nearly 20 tickets for today's game with Oldham Athletic.
But he really needed only one, for his father, Percey.
"This will be the first time my Dad has ever seen me play indoor soccer," Ronson said before leaving for England. "I played 13 years in First and Second Divisions in England and my father was both surprised and disappointed when I decided to come play indoor soccer in America.
"He's a purist and I'm sure when he sees us play, his first reaction will be, 'What the hell is that?' But I'm very excited that he's going to see the game and meet the guys."
After being delayed by a missed connection in Amsterdam, the Blast arrived around noon yesterday. It was just in time for an afternoon news conference with the British media.
Major Soccer League commissioner Earl Foreman, Blast coach Kenny Cooper and defender Bruce Savage each spoke to the gathering and answered questions for an hour and a half on the 1994 World Cup and how the MSL will impact on it.
"The media asked insightful questions and didn't seem to be down on us at all," said Cooper. "As for the game, England started playing indoor soccer about seven years ago and it has grown since then. It is obvious Oldham thinks, because it is tops in the Second Division and plays on carpet, that it will beat us. But I think we have a great opportunity here and I want to make sure we play well and take advantage of it."
Foreman said English teams are talking about forming an indoor league, as soon as enough indoor facilities are available.
"They think they need six, which could be shared for a 12-team league," said Foreman. "Two are already under construction. I think, without twisting anyone's words, that they feel they could have a league established within a year or two."
The commissioner said he also has spoken to Seth Bladden, the No. 2 man in FIFA, the international organizing body of pro soccer, and was told the MSL teams "are the ones the other countries in the world want to beat indoors."
"That spirit can grow," Foreman said. "If we can win here, it would be an incredible boost."
It will be a boost to Ronson, if he can simply make his dad proud.
"I can never forget I grew up and played the best soccer in England," said Ronson, who listens to a shortwave radio every Saturday morning -- even on road trips -- to tune in a program that gives him the English soccer results each week.
Ronson was a good enough English player to be involved in four cash trades that totaled $600,000.
"If I had been a goal scorer in England, I'd probably still be playing there," he said. "But as it is, I'm playing with the Blast and I'm proud of the game we play. I don't know if people there will remember me or if I'll be Billy Who? But I'm anxious for us to show off our game."
NOTES: Goalkeeper Scott Manning is questionable for today's game with a banged up ankle. Cooper said a decision would be made at game time . . . Mark Mettrick, who grew up just 15 miles from Manchester, is definitely out with a groin injury.
Foreman said he was asked about the future of a pro outdoor soccer league.
"Because I'm on the committee that will set up our outdoor league, I could answer," Foreman said. "I told them we have a strong future.