Blast owner sees MISL expansion to 9 or 10 teams

Hale predicts K.C. likely to rejoin league

three expansion teams are also on deck

April 11, 2007|By KENT BAKER | KENT BAKER,SUN REPORTER

Blast owner Ed Hale said yesterday that additions for next season could enlarge the Major Indoor Soccer League from six teams to 10 and create Eastern and Western division play.

"There will be three, maybe four teams, coming in," said Hale at a postseason wrap-up luncheon at 1st Mariner Bank headquarters. "There is a 75 percent probability that Kansas City will be back in the league. We've been talking for a while."

The MISL was already scheduled to add franchises in Newark, N.J.; Orlando, Fla.; and Monterrey, Mexico; and Hale is encouraged by the possible return of Kansas City, which dropped out in 2005.

"I'm happy if they're going to be here," Hale said. "They play in Kemper Arena and they've always had a pretty good nucleus and a good general manager. Adding more growth is good for everybody. We need to get into the West Coast more. California [which is based in Stockton] gets a little bit beat up when they go on the road."

If the full expansion materializes, the East could be composed of the Blast, Philadelphia, Newark, Orlando and Detroit, and the West of Chicago, Milwaukee, Kansas City, California and Monterrey.

But it will probably also mean that current franchises will lose personnel through the expansion draft, which will partially stock new teams. That draft has been moved back to June 5 to allow time to determine just how many incoming entries need to participate.

"We still haven't been given the rules," said Blast president and general manager Kevin Healey.

"We're probably going to lose some good players," said coach Danny Kelly. "Not by choice. It's not something we look forward to."

Meanwhile, two Blast players have been accorded postseason honors. Goalkeeper Sagu was named to the All-MISL second team and first-year defender Mike Lookingland to the all-rookie squad.

"If we make the playoffs, I'm going to be the No. 1 goalkeeper," said a disappointed Sagu.

The five-year veteran led the league with a 10.53 points-against average and .728 save percentage, but lost out to Philadelphia goalie Peter Pappas, who started all 30 games for the playoff-bound KiXX. This is the second straight season Sagu has been on the second team.

Lookingland, from Fallston, had five goals, four assists and 18 blocks. He had a hat trick Jan. 11 in a win at California.

Jamar Beasley of Detroit, the league's leading scorer, was named the Most Valuable Player. He was joined on the first team by KiXX player-coach Don D'Ambra, Greg Howes of Milwaukee and Philadelphia defenders Genoni Martinez and Pat Morris.

Hale cited injuries as one of the key reasons the Blast (winner of three of the previous four league titles) barely missed the playoffs.

kent.baker@baltsun.com

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