Philadelphia and Toronto are in for 1996-97. Will New Haven, Conn., be next?
The Buffalo Blizzard and Chicago Power will play Friday at the New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum in the second of seven neutral-site games in the National Professional Soccer League this season.
New Haven has applied for a franchise that would begin play next season. The Toronto Shooting Stars and the Philadelphia Kixx already have been accepted.
"Our neutral-site series is a great way to showcase our product in non-NPSL cities," said NPSL commissioner Steve Paxos, who has led the league's growth from four clubs in 1988 to its present 13.
In Philadelphia, the NPSL has a vibrant soccer city. The Spirit-Power game Saturday night at the CoreStates Spectrum attracted 13,052, the league's second-largest crowd this season.
In terms of soccer participation, the greater Philadelphia area is fourth in the country, with 496,000 people playing last year, according to the Soccer Industry Council of America. The same study shows that Pennsylvania, with 1,089,000 participants, ranked third behind California (1,785,000) and New York (1,395,000) last year.
The Kixx owner is Edward Tepper, who in the 1970s was one of the founders of the Major Indoor Soccer League, which folded in 1992. It included the Blast, which became the Spirit.
"We're flattered that a founder of the MISL will be joining our league as an owner of an expansion franchise," Paxos said.
Said Tepper: "There are nearly a half-million young people playing soccer in the Delaware Valley. Now, they will have a professional franchise to identify with and hopefully be inspired to play professionally."
King earns salute
Michael King was chosen NPSL Player of the Week on the strength of five goals and an assist for 11 points in the Milwaukee Wave's 30-7 win over the Canton Invaders that raised the Wave's record to 4-1, best in the National Division. The 30 points were a team record.
The outburst lifted King, a member of the Spirit in its first season (1992-93), to sixth on the NPSL scoring list with 23 points. With 367 career points with Milwaukee, he is seven shy of George Pastor's club record.
Operation for Stealey
Spirit owner Bill Stealey is going on the disabled list. He will undergo surgery at Union Memorial Hospital today for removal of calcium deposits on the sides of both feet, souvenirs, he said, of his athletic career.
He'll be hobbled for three weeks, but vows he'll be able to take a golfing vacation in the Caribbean over Christmas.
Saturday, the Canton Invaders will attempt for the sixth time to become the first NPSL team to win 300 games. They face the St. Louis Ambush. The Invaders, who have won 259 regular-season and 40 playoff games, took two of their first three games this season, but have dropped five straight. . . . The Detroit Rockers are bracing for the first three-games-in-three-days stretch for an NPSL club this season -- a home game against the Harrisburg Heat on Friday and visits to Wichita on Saturday and St. Louis on Sunday. . . . The Spirit held Cleveland Crunch big guns Hector Marinaro and Zoran Karic to a combined three goals worth four points in Friday's 19-11 victory, but Detroit felt their wrath Saturday, when they accounted for eight worth 17 points in an 18-8 win. Marinaro and Karic are one-two in the NPSL in scoring with 45 and 37 points, respectively.