In three days, the Major Soccer League will hold an afternoon conference, and commissioner Earl Foreman said he believes league owners will make a final decision about the coming season. Whether that decision will be to continue the league or to close shop is unclear even to the men who will make the decision.
Darrell Rolph, managing partner of the Wichita Wings, said stoically: "We're in business until we're not. All I can do is wait and see. In the meantime, we're selling season tickets [3,300 so far]."
In Dallas, managing partner Gordan Jago said owner Don Carter has informed his team there will be a Sidekicks team there for at least the next two years -- whether there is an MSL or not. Dallas is a 1994 World Cup site, and Carter has determined the city will have a soccer team.
"It's ironic that after being the team that has struggled most for existence through the years, we are now the one team that has a future no matter what," Jago said. "But what league will we be playing in? We hope it's the MSL. But we won't know until Monday."
San Diego Sockers owner Oscar Anciera Jr. has been working on assembling an indoor all-star team from Mexico that would provide the league with a sixth team. It would play the entire season on the road. Anciera could not be reached yesterday, but Jago said the San Diego owner is upbeat.
"He's put together an entire program that looks like it could work," Jago said. "He's very excited."
Blast owner Ed Hale said he believes "it may be too late," even though people "are working like crazy" to keep the MSL alive.
"I don't like losing at anything and I'm keeping an open mind," Hale said. "If we have six teams, the Blast will play."
In Cleveland, Crunch owner George Hoffman is at the opposite end of the spectrum.
"My gut feeling is that there will be a league," he said yesterday. "I can't guarantee it, but I have friends I talk to, confidences I can't betray, that make me think it looks good."
At the league offices here, Foreman and deputy commissioner John Borozzi were on the phone nearly all day yesterday, trying to find some way for the five-team league to survive.
"I wouldn't disagree with Ed," said Foreman, who also wouldn't disagree with Hoffman. "Everyone has a right to an opinion. But I won't guess, and Ed's guessing."
The one thing everyone does agree on is that a decision must be made Monday during the 3 p.m. conference call. The $350,000 letters of credit on deposit from each team roll over for the new season on July 1.
Each owner also agrees Monday's decision will be based on what Foreman has to tell them. Just what that will be? Stay tuned. Foreman says he still is trying to resuscitate the St. Louis franchise. He also is carrying on conversations with several television networks.
"I honestly believe St. Louis is viable," Foreman said. "It can be operated in a solid, economical basis next year. I can show
anyone how it can be done. I don't know if it will be done. . . ."
In an unrelated development, Ed Tepper, the man who with Foreman co-founded the MSL in 1978, announced the birth of a new Arena Soccer League in Philadelphia yesterday.
The league is to play from May to July beginning in 1993, with 12 teams composed of young American athletes who have starred in local intercollegiate and/or regional play.
"It's basically local guys playing in their local markets," said Foreman. "My owners are aware of it and we've encouraged it. It's a 'bus' league for part-time players who want to stay in the game, while pursuing other careers."
Sites mentioned for teams include Philadelphia; New York; Pittsburgh; Miami; Orlando, Fla.; Tampa, Fla.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Richmond, Va.; Atlanta; Providence, R.I.; Worcester, Mass.; St. Louis, Mo.; Charleston, S.C.; and Winston-Salem, N.C.