The Pittsburgh Spirit will be allowed to draft one player from each of the MSL's other seven teams when the expansion draft is held in the next couple of weeks, league officials said yesterday.
Each team, including the Baltimore Blast, will be allowed to protect eight of the 18 players on its roster in the draft to stock the league's newest member.
The Dallas Sidekicks, who ceased operations at the end of the regular season, will not participate in the draft to stock the Spirit. Unless new investors are found for the Sidekicks, Tatu and his teammates will be available in a dispersal draft later this summer.
The expansion draft does not guarantee the Spirit complete rights to the players. Instead, the Pittsburgh team is drafting only the right of first refusal, meaning it has the right to match any other offer a player receives.
If Pittsburgh matches the top offer a player receives, he is obligated to play for the Spirit.
Baltimore Blast general manager John Borozzi said yesterday that for two reasons he will not reveal the names of the eight players protected by the Blast.
"First of all, I don't want to hurt a player's feelings that I might have to sign at a later date if he isn't selected, and I don't want to tip my hand to Pittsburgh before the draft," said Borozzi.
However, Borozzi said it would be senseless to waste any of the eight spots for protected players on Blast free agents Scott Manning, Domenic Mobilio and Mike Stankovic, since they "can sign with anybody they want."
Mobilio and Stankovic have already indicated a strong desire to re-sign with the Blast.
Six-time MSL All-Star defender Bruce Savage also doesn't figure to be protected, since he has told Blast coach Kenny Cooper to put together the 1991-92 team without him. Savage is devoting his full efforts into earning a full-time contract with the U.S. national team.
"I'm pretty sure I won't be protected," Savage said last night.
Borozzi said he was originally notified yesterday afternoon to have his list of eight protected players available for Pittsburgh by 5 p.m. tomorrow and that the draft would be conducted at that time.
But later in the day, Borozzi received notice that the draft would be delayed until Pittsburgh named a coach. Borozzi and league officials think the coach will be chosen in the next two weeks.