The Major Soccer League will explore the possibility of adding four teams from the National Professional Soccer League at a meeting in two weeks, MSL commissioner Earl Foreman said yesterday.
Foreman said he and Baltimore Blast owner Ed Hale would represent the MSL at the meeting with NPSL commissioner Steve Paxos.
There has been speculation in the past month that the eight-team MSL would merge with the nine-team, indoor NPSL, but Foreman said yesterday that "merger" is "too strong."
"I see it more as an accommodation or consolidation," said Foreman. "I think you're talking more like taking in four teams than a complete merger."
But Foreman said he wasn't predicting any specific results from the meeting with Paxos.
"There will be an exploration of what possibility there exists for a consolidation or accommodation with the NPSL that would benefit the MSL," said Foreman. "We have an open mind, but I don't know what's on their mind."
The nine members of the NPSL, formerly known as the American Indoor Soccer Association, are the Hershey (Pa.) Impact, the Canton (Ohio) Invaders, the Milwaukee Wave, the Dayton (Ohio) Dynamo, Chicago Power, Detroit Rockers, Atlanta Attack, Illinois Thunder and the New York Kick.
Hershey, Canton, Milwaukee and Dayton have been the most stable teams in the league and would be primary candidates to join the MSL.
Paxos said yesterday: "It's a delicate situation, and I hope something good will come out of the meeting. Any time you're looking at something that will help soccer, I'm for it."
Hale has been the driving force behind the meeting with the NPSL. He has said he thinks the Blast and the MSL need more than eight members to prosper.
Hale said, "As a practical matter for the Baltimore Blast, our franchise would do better with more teams as far as marketing, TV and our status with the U.S. Soccer Federation are concerned."
Hale said he wants to invite all nine members of the NPSL into the MSL.
"We would be the largest professional soccer league in the country if all nine teams came in," he said.
However, Hale said he doesn't expect all nine NPSL teams to meet the "requirements" of the MSL.
One of the main stumbling blocks to a consolidation of NPSL teams with the MSL is the difference in salary caps between the two leagues.
The MSL has a team salary cap of $755,000; the NPSL cap is about $300,000.
MSL players have been asked to take sizable pay cuts over the past three years and probably would protest further reductions.
Another possible drawback to a consolidation of the leagues is a running feud over which league is "major" and which is "minor."
The NPSL has been tabbed a minor league by some because of the low salaries and smaller crowds.
NOTES: A news conference is scheduled in Pittsburgh next week at which an announcement is expected that the city will join the MSL as an expansion team for the 1991-92 season.
Here are the nine National Professional Soccer League teams. Four teams might be added to the Major Soccer League. Teams in bold are the strongest candidates.
New York Kick