U.S. Soccer Federation president Alan Rothenberg says it is unlikely the United States will have a Division I level outdoor league in place by 1994.
"If it was easy to do this, it would be in place already," Rothenberg said. "We're working on it. We're developing a plan. Earl [MSL commissioner Earl Foreman] hopes to have a plan in hand by an August deadline. I think we'll have second and third division levels set up and playing games by 1994, but I don't think we have the talent to field a serious Division I level by World Cup time.
"No. 1, there are not enough American players of first division quality and No. 2, we don't have enough money to sign dozens of international players to fill out rosters."
The original grant of the World Cup to the United States in 1994 obligated the USSF to have an outdoor league plan in hand and operating by 1994.
"FIFA is aware how hard it is for us to do this and how hard we are working at doing it," Rothenberg said. "We want to do it right. I think if I tell them where we are and show them what we're doing, show them we're moving toward our obligation, they'll bear with us. We're planning. It's not as if we're not doing anything."
Another problem for such a league is finding enough stadiums in the 25,000- to 40,000-seat range.
* BLAST IT: It is two games and counting for the Blast. Will it or won't it make the Major Soccer League playoffs?
Will Wichita lose faster than the Blast?
"The amazing thing is, that as bad as it is, we still control our destiny," said Blast defender Bruce Savage.
The Blast (20-28) -- loser of seven straight, 12 of 13 and 19 of 27 one-goal games -- still has a one-game lead over Wichita (19-31), which is down to 12 field players.
Saturday at the Arena, playing before the largest crowd of the season (9,849), the Blast went into the final minute of the game with an 8-6 lead and still, somehow, managed to lose in overtime, 9-8, to Cleveland.
"The bottom line," said Blast forward Dale Mitchell, "is that no matter how we play, we still lose. We were in position to win, we had a few good chances to score, but in the end we don't do it."
Even the return of forward/defender Tim Wittman, out since March 4 because of knee surgery, wasn't enough Saturday. Neither was the fine offensive play of rookie Dominic Feltham (two goals).
"For one reason or another, it's not working out, not yet anyway," said Blast midfield/defender Richard Chinapoo, whose controversial goal in the first quarter seemed to get the Blast rolling. "You can't question our effort. We just have to go make things happen. We have to beat Dallas."
The Sidekicks are here Friday, and the regular season ends in Cleveland Saturday.
No one has let up, but time is running out. The playoffs will begin April 12 in Kansas City. The Blast has a week to make sure it gets there on its own merit, rather than slinking in the back door thanks to more Wichita losses.
"Everything happens for a reason," Chinapoo said. "We just have to figure this out."
* CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRUNCH: Saturday's game with the Blast turned out to be more than just another game for Cleveland.
The Crunch victory combined with Dallas' 3-2 overtime victory against Kansas City wrapped up the Eastern Division title for Cleveland. The Crunch then went out yesterday and lost to Dallas, 4-3. Tatu had a goal and two assists for the Sidekicks, who snapped the Crunch's 13-game winning streak at home.
* SOCKERS LOSE TWICE: In the West, St. Louis cut San Diego's lead to 1 1/2 games with last night's 5-3 victory in San Diego. The Sockers, who have two games left, also lost on Saturday to Tacoma, 10-1.
* FOR THE RECORD: Kansas City forward Jan Goossens broke his own single-season assist record in Friday's 9-4 victory over Wichita. Goossens set the club record in 1987-88 with 56 assists. His one-goal, four-assist performance Friday brings his assist total to 58.