is ready to put an up-and-down post-Olympic year behind him and focus on the challenges that await in 2010, including adjusting to a ban on the high-performance suits that rocked his sport. The 14-time Olympic gold medalist from Baltimore will compete in one final meet, Duel in the Pool on Dec. 18-19 in Manchester, England, before closing out the year. "The biggest thing right now is me getting back in shape," he said. Phelps' recent trip to Europe for two World Cup short-course meets produced a batch of what he described as "pretty awful slow races," resulting in no victories, let alone any records. In preparation for the Jan. 1 ban on high-tech suits, Phelps wore an old-style suit, making him look even slower against his polyurethane-clad competition. "In a way I'm kind of happy that happened, to light the fire a little bit more," he said.
The new league that Crystal Palace Baltimore joined last week has been named the North American Soccer League. The second division men's professional league is scheduled to begin play this spring. The original NASL lasted from 1968 to 1984 and briefly made a splash with the likes of Pele
, Franz Beckenbauer
, Giorgio Chinaglia
and Johan Cruyff
. The new NASL has nine teams: Crystal Palace Baltimore, Carolina RailHawks, Atlanta Silverbacks, Miami FC, Minnesota Thunder, Montreal Impact, St. Louis Soccer United, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.- From Sun staff and news services