On Oct. 3, Le Manic de Montreal, one of the North American Soccer League's most successful franchises, will cease to exist.
In its place, Team Canada will be formed to develop the Canadian national team for World Cup competition, much in the manner of Team America. It will be coowned by the Canadian Soccer Association and Molson Breweries, stocked solely with Canadian citizens and will compete in the NASL.
However, the announcement of Team Canada's birth has drawn vehement protest from the Manic faithful, and General Manager Roger Samson intends to use the next five months to make the transition as easy as possible.
"The opposition has been very emotional, but I feel time will heal that," said Samson, whose team will host Team America today at 2 p.m. (WWDC-1260). "The fans must realize that the survival of professional soccer in North America is at stake, and depends very heavily on the success of the two national teams. People will eventually warm up to the idea."
Montreal's 3-1 opening day win over Tampa Bay this season was heavily picketed by faithful Manic fans and drew only 6,460 in protest. In 1982, the Manic averaged 21,348 in 16 home games, including a season-high 34,251 in Montreal's 3-1 win over New York Aug. 20.
Injuries will force two of Montreal's key players to miss Sunday's game. Midfielder Jean Francois Larios has an injured left knee and goaltender Mike Hewitt a sprained his right ankle.