Baltimore area to get new 'A' team Club to work with Spirit

Dynamo stays in Carolina

October 02, 1997|By Lowell E. Sunderland | Lowell E. Sunderland,SUN STAFF

The Carolina Dynamo will stay in High Point, N.C., but the Baltimore area will be home to a new A-League pro soccer team next spring, operating in conjunction with the indoor Baltimore Spirit of the National Professional Soccer League.

"We hope to have this wrapped up and begin operations late this month or the first of November," said A. J. Ali, head of a group of six Columbia investors who have been trying to bring the Dynamo here.

Dynamo owner Neil Macpherson notified Ali's group Monday that he would retain his franchise, although the team -- which lost pro soccer's top minor league championship, 2-1, in a shootout last Saturday to the Milwaukee Rampage -- likely will skip playing next season.

Subject to negotiations, some of the Dynamo's players possibly would be available to the new Baltimore team, at least for next season, said Francisco Marcos, commissioner of pro soccer's minor leagues.

One condition the Columbia group must agree to, Marcos said, would be a working relationship with the Spirit.

"That means I'm forcing something soccer people are notorious for doing, which is not working with one another," Marcos said.

Both Ali and Drew Forrester, the Spirit's general manager, said they had been talking since August, and welcomed the potential of the teams working together.

"We have several players who would be interested and could play at that level," Forrester said. "That's a very good level of soccer, something this area deserves."

The Spirit and the new A-League team simply could share some players, since the teams' seasons do not overlap, or could do more in the way of mutual promotion and working with corporate sponsors.

The arrangement could evolve into the financial realm, Marcos, Ali and Forester all said yesterday, although that is not a requirement and not the current situation.

Ali said the unnamed team will play next season at UMBC Stadium, and move to a new stadium later, possibly in Cooksville in western Howard County.

Spirit midfielders Sasa Zoric (Hershey Wildcats) and Bo Vuckovic (Montreal Impact and later the Rochester Rhinos) played in the A-League this summer. Khalil Azmi, the Moroccan goalkeeper the team signed recently, played for the Charleston (S.C.) Battery after a year with the Colorado Rapids in Major League Soccer.

Pub Date: 10/02/97

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