Teams from the American and Western soccer leagues probably will play regular season matches against each other starting next spring, a move that would put the United States close to its first national professional outdoor league since the North American Soccer League folded in 1984, ASL vice chairman John Koskinen said yesterday.
Under a proposal formulated at league meetings last weekend in Tampa, ASL teams would play four interleague games in addition to 14 matches within the league.
Also discussed was the possibility of two matches against foreign clubs that would count in the standings. Teams from the Soviet Union, Brazil and Argentina are being considered, Koskinen said.
Each league, located on opposite coasts, is expected to consist of eight teams. The ASL and WSL merged for marketing purposes last year to become the American Professional Soccer League, but the only interleague play was an unofficial national championship game in September.
In addition, the merger between the Fairfax-based Washington Stars and Maryland Bays of the ASL was approved, while the financially troubled Washington Diplomats were terminated for "failure to adhere to league requirements." Diplomats owner Julio Pinon did not attend the last two league meetings.
Those moves leave the Washington area with one team, which will play at the Bays' home field, Cedar Lane Park in Columbia, and will retain the Bays nickname along with Coach Pete Caringi and most of the players. The field will be resurfaced, 1,500 seats will be added and a new scoreboard and press box will be built.
Bays owner John Liparini and Koskinen, former owner of the Stars, will have an equal share in the club, with former Stars general manager Gordon Bradley owning a small part.
Also, the ASL's Orlando Lions are expected to merge with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, while the future of the Boston and New Jersey franchises remains uncertain. A team from Raleigh, N.C., will join the league next season.
"Clearly, 1991 is a limbo year," Koskinen said. "This would be a type of skeleton league that would show people what we have in mind for the future."
Koskinen also is a member of the U.S. Soccer Federation's Professional Standards Committee, which was formed last month to help design a national outdoor system by 1992. USSF officials hope to finalize a plan by next spring, and APSL and Major Indoor Soccer League teams are expected to form the top division.