A-League team to play here in '98

September 27, 1997|By Lowell E. Sunderland | Lowell E. Sunderland,SUN STAFF

"TC An A-League team will play in the Baltimore area next season, whether the Carolina Dynamo moves here or not, both the leader of a group of Columbia soccer investors and the league's commissioner said yesterday.

"I think it's safe to say," Francisco Marcos said. He directs not only the A-League but all of pro soccer's American minor leagues.

"Our intention is to get an A-League franchise," Columbia businessman A.J. Ali said. His group is trying to move the Dynamo here. "If it's Carolina, that's fine. If not, we'll put together a squad from this area. We have enough talent here to build from.

"Our long-term goal is to field a team representative of the talent that comes out of Maryland. It's a Maryland team."

Ali said in an interview his group has several options even if Neil Macpherson, the Dynamo's owner, backs out of the apparent deal he had reached orally, selling half-interest in the team and moving it to the Baltimore area.

A couple of other franchises in pro soccer's top minor league also could be available, Ali said, or the Columbia group will obtain a new A-League franchise.

Whatever unfolds, he said, his group has the financial strength to pursue a team for next season.

"Each option has its pros and cons," he said. "But we haven't wavered a bit."

Marcos named the Colorado Foxes and Orlando Sundogs as other possible franchises that could move, but he also said the league would not be opposed to awarding the Ali group a new franchise.

He said discussion of a Baltimore franchise occupied part of a long league executive committee meeting yesterday in Milwaukee, site of tonight's SAT league title game between the Dynamo and the Milwaukee Rampage. Macpherson chairs the executive committee.

Pub Date: 9/27/97

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