As the Major Soccer League prepares to kick off postseason play tonight in St. Louis, commissioner Earl Foreman is in Texas, attempting to resurrect the Dallas franchise that folded yesterday.
"I'm meeting [today] with people who want to have a franchise in this city," said Foreman. "I'm hopeful we'll have a Dallas franchise back in the league in the immediate future. I'm exerting all my efforts toward that goal, but to say more than that at this time would be premature."
The MSL board of directors was to get a formal update this afternoon in a conference call. Foreman said the board also will be considering an application for an expansion team. The commissioner would not say what city is applying, but league sources said the application will be from Pittsburgh.
Blast owner Ed Hale, whose team failed to qualify for the MSL playoffs for the first time in 11 years, said he is not unduly worried by the events in Dallas.
"A year ago, St. Louis was iffy and San Diego owner Ron Fowler was threatening to fold the Sockers if we got below eight teams," Hale said. "That situation put us and the league in jeopardy. I think we're much better off now. We are reviewing an expansion application, which I think could be OK'd almost immediately, and in Dallas, there is another investor who wants to keep a franchise there."
Dallas majority owner Phil Cobb announced the Sidekicks were ceasing operations yesterday.
"The staggering financial reversals, a poor season and falling attendance left us no alternative," Cobb said. "It was a difficult personal decision to make. But this decision enables us to continue to honor player and league contract commitments, as well as provide an opportunity to work with suppliers and creditors to resolve our debt obligations."
Standard MSL player contracts run through June 30.
The decision to fold also frees any future franchise owners in Dallas from previous debt. Cobb has estimated his losses to be near $500,000.
The Sidekicks, who won the Western Division title last season, failed to qualify for postseason play this season, finishing with a 20-32 record, despite having the league's leading scorer, the flashy Tatu.
Dallas joined the MSL in 1984 and in its seven-year history played in five playoffs, winning one division title and one championship in 1986-87.
Foreman said the other seven franchises in the MSL are solid. "I've been assured by all our other clubs that there are no problems," he said.
* VOTE OF CONFIDENCE: Hale last night praised the work of both general manager John Borozzi and coach Kenny Cooper. "Both have their jobs here next season as long as they want them," said Hale, who was also happy that attendance in the final month of the season steadily increased, to a high of 11,445 for Friday's final game.
* STORM PSYCHED: Western Division runner-up St. Louis (32-20) has its top two scorers rested and ready for tonight's division semifinal opener against Tacoma in the St. Louis Arena.
Preki finished the season by scoring in 19 straight games before sitting out practically the whole game at Wichita Sunday, and Usiyan, who also was held in reserve Sunday, has 68 points in his last 33 games.