MISL down to seven teams after dropping San Diego, Monterrey clubs

New schedule in works

dispersal draft Wednesday

Pro Soccer

December 31, 2004|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN STAFF

The Major Indoor Soccer League will complete this season as a seven-team, one-division league after officially dropping franchises in San Diego and Monterrey, Mexico, yesterday.

"I think the decision is an affirmation of the management committee's determination to build something stronger," said MISL commissioner Steve Ryan via cell phone after a news release made official there would be no new ownership for the San Diego Sockers this season and that two ownership groups in Monterrey both failed to meet league guidelines.

None of the remaining seven teams will lose scheduled home games, however. A new schedule is being configured and will be released next week with the remaining teams filling the established San Diego and Monterrey dates.

The league will hold a dispersal draft of players from the two teams Wednesday at 2 p.m., with the remaining seven teams making selections in inverted order based on their winning percentages from last season through this Sunday.

With the elimination of the four divisions, the MISL committee has decided four of the seven teams will make the postseason playoffs, a decision Blast general manager Kevin Healey believes is good for the league.

"With only four teams making the postseason it will make the regular season mean something and keep it exciting for our fans," said Healey.

Healey described the loss of San Diego and Monterrey as "unfortunate" but said he believes the league will recover. "We've been here 25 years," he said. "We have a lot of strong owners. I think we'll recover and go forward as a stronger organization."

Healey said the Blast, weakened by a number of serious injuries this season, will begin calling players to determine their interest in coming to Baltimore.

"Once we know who wants to come, we'll look at who will help us in the near and long term," he said.

Official word of the management committee's decisions came in an e-mail news release. Though the committee had already placed San Diego owner Raj Kalra in default and taken over the responsibility for paying the Sockers' players, the release said the MISL "reluctantly accepted Kalra's decision to suspend operations."

The reluctance came from San Diego's long and successful franchise history and the fact the league wants it in the MISL. Ryan said he hopes to continue discussions with a possible ownership group that could, at some point, restore the franchise.

"The group I was talking to put in a lot of personal time on Christmas weekend, but we just ran out of time," Ryan said. "They're very successful business people and maybe now, without deadline pressure, they'll have the time needed to organize a plan."

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