Major Soccer League commissioner Earl Foreman said he made "a good-faith offer" to help the American Professional Soccer League this summer, but APSL commissioner Bill Sage didn't take it that way.
In less time than it takes to turn off a light, Sage rejected Foreman's offer to field an outdoor select team in the struggling APSL for the coming season.
"I don't know what Earl was thinking when he sent me this letter," Sage said of the letter he received yesterday afternoon. "He hasn't seen fit to call me and this letter wasn't even cold off the FAX machine before I started getting calls from the media asking for my reaction."
After reading of the Maryland Bays' folding earlier this week, Foreman said his "knee-jerk reaction" was to offer help to the APSL, which is left with just five teams.
"If adding a sixth would make a positive difference to them in terms of survival, I thought we could do it," Foreman said. "It was a good-faith offer. If Bill Sage isn't interested, that's fine. We wish them well."
Foreman refused to enter into further discussions of Sage's outright rejection of the MSL's offer, but the APSL's quick negative response is not surprising to anyone who has followed the development of outdoor and indoor soccer in this country.
Traditionally, the outdoor organizers have harbored resentment for the newer indoor game. At the same time, the MSL was not very cooperative when it came to lending its players to the U.S. National Team.
During the past 2 1/2 years, however, both sides have worked to end their "war." But yesterday's events seemed to point out the state of soccer in the United States is not in perfect harmony.
Sage initially seemed more upset by the timing of the offer and calls from reporters than he was interested in the tone of the letter, which expressed a willingness by the MSL to do whatever it could "to help" the state of soccer in the United States.
"Of course we're grateful, but it won't work," Sage said, rejecting the suggestion in Foreman's letter that Foreman, Sage and U.S. Soccer Federation president Alan Rothenberg meet to discuss what assistance the MSL might be able to offer. "We're committed to building a professional outdoor league and it wouldn't help us to have something of a hybrid floating around."
Sage said he is saddened by the loss of the Bays, but added a team in this area could be back for the 1993 season. "I've been greatly encouraged by the amount of unsolicited interest expressed for expansion," he said.
He also said the APSL will be announcing its format for the coming season and its schedule within the next three to four days. He said the season probably will run from May through September; that the five teams -- San Francisco, Colorado, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa Bay -- will play primarily weekend dates; and that the league also hoped to host a "Knockout Cup" competition featuring various outdoor teams. Sage said that might be "a good vehicle" through which the MSL teams interested in playing outdoors "could get their feet wet."
When advised of Sage's suggestion for a Knockout Cup, Foreman's reply was brief.
"Knockout Cup or knockout drops, we have no interest," he said.