Philadelphia and Toronto to join league next season Pa. franchise will play at new CoreStates Center

NPSL notebook

November 14, 1995|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,SUN STAFF

The Spirit has its I-83 rival in the Harrisburg Heat. Now it will have an I-95 rival.

The National Professional Soccer League will announce at a news conference today that Philadelphia will join the league next season, along with previously announced Toronto. They will be the league's 14th and 15th members.

The Tampa Bay Terror, the expansion franchise headed by ex-Spirit coach Kenny Cooper, began play this year.

The Philadelphia team will play in the CoreStates Center, which will replace the Spectrum next season. Early last season, the NPSL used the Spectrum as a test site with an eye toward just such expansion, scheduling the Spirit and the Chicago Power there. The game drew 9,371.

In a rematch, the Spirit and Chicago will play at the Spectrum Saturday in the first of seven NPSL neutral-site games this season. Five will be played in the Worcester (Mass.) Centrum and one in the New Haven (Conn.) Coliseum. Connecticut also has applied for a 1996-97 franchise.

"Overall, we feel great about having Philadelphia in the league, although we do have a few small concerns about territorial rights," said Spirit general manager Drew Forrester.

The Spirit conducts summer youth camps in Newark, Del., about midway between Baltimore and Philadelphia, and intends to continue that practice.

"Philadelphia may want that area for its camps, too, so we'll need to work out an amiable relationship," Forrester said. "But Philadelphia is a great addition to the league. They have a lot of youth soccer there, and so does New Jersey. The new team also will draw from Jersey."

The next Stankovic?

Bojan Vuckovic wasted no time making his mark in the NPSL. Signed nine days ago by Cooper, Vuckovic had nine goals in his first two games and was named the league's Player of the Week.

Cooper calls 24-year-old Vuckovic, a native of Yugoslavia who is married to an American woman, "a young Mike Stankovic."

Stankovic, also a Yugoslavia native who played for Cooper in Baltimore and plays for the Spirit now, celebrated his 39th birthday Saturday.

"Bojan is one of those diamonds Yugoslavia was known for producing," Cooper said, noting that Vuckovic recently completed a summer-fall season with Arizona of the Continental Indoor Soccer League. "Good skills. Great shot."

Vuckovic had two goals in Friday's 21-7 loss to the NPSL defending champion St. Louis Ambush and seven in Saturday's 23-22 loss to the undefeated (6-0) Cleveland Crunch.

His spree was particularly gratifying to a team that hadn't scored more than 10 points until the Crunch game. With 18 points, Vuckovic is eighth on the NPSL scoring list. Despite his heroics, Tampa Bay is 0-5.

"It tests your patience," Cooper. "But we're getting closer, as the Cleveland game indicates. I'd say we're still three or four players away."

The Cincinnati Silverbacks, also winless at 0-4, play Tampa Bay on Saturday.


Stankovic is the second-oldest player in the NPSL. Buffalo Blizzard defender Oscar Pisano was born Sept. 3, 1956, about two months before Stankovic. . . . Cleveland's Hector Marinaro last weekend became the fourth player in U.S. indoor soccer history to reach the 600-goal mark. . . . St. Louis won its home opener Saturday night before 13,417, the largest NPSL crowd of the season. . . . The Canton Invaders, stuck at 299 wins, will make their fifth attempt to become the 12-year-old league's first 300-game winner when they visit the Milwaukee Wave on Saturday in a match between the NPSL's two charter members.

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