A Pitch to Dream On

September 26, 1991

Virtually nothing springs as eternal as soccer fanatics' hopes that the international game will catch on big-time in the United States. The latest off-shoot is the vision of Baltimore Blast coach Kenny Cooper and others that it might be feasible to include two English teams in the Major Soccer League -- and maybe a team or two from Mexico.

Fanciful stuff? Perhaps. Yet why not a team or two from Canada as well? That would make it a four-nation league.

The MSL still is tottering on the edge of extinction. Only a few weeks back, it nearly died for lack of money and lack of American backers. With so many players changing teams annually, with no television contracts worth mentioning, with so many folded franchises in its past, and with so few big cities still holding franchises, this "major" league continues its quest for viability and even credibility.

Yet the MSL was founded and survives on entrepreneurial guts. Look at it this way: this international idea isn't as crazy as the original one of converting outdoor soccer into, at its very best, an exciting, fast-paced, skill-laden game once labeled "human pinball."

Most tantalizing of all is the insistent, irresistible dream that all those tens of thousands of kids playing soccer in America somehow, some way, some day will transform the pro game into a bountiful business here. That's the real basis beneath all the MSL's cliff-hanging which, for those with a business bent, is almost as fascinating to watch as the indoor game itself.

Another thing: This England/Mexico concept shows infinitely better marketing sense than San Diego's interest in enticing tired, cocaine-tainted Diego Maradona into the MSL. That step would not endear the struggling MSL to the soccer nuts in America's suburbs, whom the league still desperately needs if it has any future at all.

Kenny Cooper and friends should pursue their dream. George Halas, Paul Brown and others endured lots of lean years trying to get the National Football League established, but just look at it now.

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.