Unity of NPSL, new MSL makes it twice as nice for the players

NPSL notebook

January 09, 1996|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,SUN STAFF

Never let it be said that professional soccer's major leagues don't work in harmony.

Two of them, the National Professional Soccer League and Major League Soccer, which will begin its inaugural season this spring, will share players under a contractual agreement. When the NPSL indoor season ends in April, some players will join MLS outdoor teams.

"With the launching of MLS, fans can watch soccer at the highest level year-round," said NPSL commissioner Steve Paxos.

More than 50 NPSL players, with the league's blessing, have been invited to an MLS scouting combine this week in Irvine, Calif., designed to showcase their abilities.

General managers will make their draft decisions based in part on what they see at the combine. Eighteen NPSL players already are under MLS contract, according to Sunil Galati, the MLS's deputy commissioner.

"Leagues have worked together in the past, but never on a contractual basis like this," Spirit general manager Drew Forrester said. "When a guy has the opportunity to play at the highest level of soccer in this country, we encourage that."

Five Spirit players were invited -- Kevin Sloan, Omid Namazi, Brad Smith, Zak Ibsen and Dave Vaudreuil. Only Vaudreuil -- who may not play due to a strained stomach muscle -- is believed to be in Irvine now, having left Saturday before the storm.

The others, stranded here, hope to fly out today. They are scheduled to return Thursday and play in the Spirit's next game Friday against the Buffalo Blizzard at the Baltimore Arena.

"This is a great opportunity," said Sloan, an Oakland Mills High grad and the Spirit's No. 2 scorer. "MLS is the most recognized Division I outdoor league in the country. There's been nothing like it since the North American Soccer League in the 1970s and early '80s, when Pele was around. Anybody wants to play at the highest level, whether it's indoors or outdoors."

Said Smith: "I've played outdoors as well as indoors the last seven years. I enjoy the outdoor game."

Moser gets nod

It almost seems as if the knee injury that sidelined the St. Louis Ambush's Mark Moser for five games did wonders for his scoring. In five games since returning, he has collected hat tricks.

Moser is the NPSL's Player of the Week after scoring 23 points in three games, including eight two-point goals, four one-pointers and three assists.

Miscellaneous

The National Division-leading Kansas City Attack has won 10 straight, matching the NPSL's longest winning streak this season, and has held opponents under 10 points in six of its last seven games, a stunning average of 3.5. . . . The Harrisburg Heat's representatives at the MLS combine are Domenic Mobilio and Scoop Stanisic. . . . Friday's St. Louis-Kansas City game will be shown by ESPN2 on a tape-delayed basis next Monday at 2 p.m. The Spirit's first ESPN2 appearance will be Jan. 22 at 2 p.m. for its Jan. 19 game in Buffalo. Its second will be Feb. 5, also 2 p.m., for its Feb. 4 game in Milwaukee.

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