Bowing to TV, MISL adjusts

Championship-round format changed to accommodate ESPN2 programming

Pro Soccer


The Major Indoor Soccer League has changed the format of its championship round to land a date on ESPN2.

The round was scheduled to have a best-of-three format, but it will change to a home-and-home, two-game style. That will allow ESPN2 to televise the second and decisive game of the final round on Sunday, April 30, at 1 p.m.

If the two teams split the first two games, the champion will be determined by a "golden goal" session at the end of Game 2. The higher-seeded team usually chooses to have Game 2 at home in case that overtime session is needed.

"We needed to get on TV, and that was the best way to do it," said Blast investor/operator Ed Hale. "I don't like it, but in order to get on TV, that's what we had to do."

ESPN2 televised last year's final, but the network determined beforehand that the games would be played in Milwaukee and St. Louis, regardless of who made it.

MISL officials didn't want to have neutral sites this year.

The network gave league officials dates to pick from, and making Game 2 on April 30 seemed the best choice. The first game of the series will be April 28 or 29.

"I am extremely pleased that we have been able to continue our relationship with ESPN for a second straight season," MISL commissioner Steve Ryan said in a statement yesterday.

The semifinal round of the playoffs will start this weekend, with top-seeded St. Louis meeting No. 4 seed Chicago.

The third-seeded Blast's series with Milwaukee will not begin until April 22, when it hosts the second-seeded Wave at 8:05 p.m. The teams will head back to Milwaukee for a 7:05 p.m. game the following day.

In other Blast news, Tim Wittman spoke with the league's disciplinary committee to give his side of the events that happened in California last month that led to his suspension through at least the rest of this season. The MISL is likely to suspend Wittman into next season because of this, and league officials are reviewing the details.

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