Major League Soccer will open its inaugural season April 6 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, will play its all-star game on July 14 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., and its first championship game on Oct. 20 at a site to be named.
That, by and large, was the extent of the real news generated by the league’s long-awaited, much-delayed “unveiling,” which took place at the Palladium in New York on Tuesday and was simulcast to the nine other MLS cities.
That and the announcing of team names and logos.
So, after more than a year without a peg on which to hang their caps, the 10 MLS teams have identities.
The Western Division has the Los Angeles Galaxy, San Jose Clash, Dallas Burn, Kansas City Wiz and Colorado Rapids.
The Eastern Division consists of the Columbus Crew, New England Revolution, New York-New Jersey Metro Stars, Washington D.C. United and Tampa Bay Mutiny.
The league also announced the signing of several new players, among them five more foreign World Cup “stars"--midfielder Marco (El Diablo) Etcheverry and forward Juan Berthy Suarez of Bolivia; defender Uche Okafor and midfielder Michael Emenalo of Nigeria, and goalkeeper Khalil Azmi of Morocco.
MLS now has 53 of the eventual 180 players that will fill its roster. Each team will have 18 players, only five of whom can be foreigners.
To help assure competitive balance, the league will assign two foreign players and two American players to each team, the rest to be distributed by a draft in early February.
On Tuesday, U.S. striker Roy Wegerle was assigned to Denver; U.S. defenders Alexi Lalas and Mike Burns to New England, and Mexican striker Hugo Sanchez to Dallas.
In addition, Washington picked up U.S. midfielder John Harkes, New York-New Jersey got U.S. midfielder Tab Ramos and Denver was assigned U.S. midfielder Mike Sorber. Los Angeles had earlier been assigned Mexican goalkeeper Jorge Campos.
Another goalkeeper who joined the league this week, former U.S. national team member Tony Meola, was not assigned a team. Nor have any players yet been assigned to San Jose, Columbus or Tampa Bay.
In making the announcements in New York, Alan Rothenberg, MLS chairman and U.S. Soccer president, also outlined the league’s intended television coverage.
“All told, there will be 36 games broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC--the largest, most comprehensive soccer package the United States has ever seen,” Rothenberg said. “And all without commercial interruption.”
Included in that package will be 10 Saturday afternoon games on ESPN, 25 Thursday night games on ESPN2 and the Oct. 20 league championship game from either RFK Stadium in Washington or Foxboro Stadium near Boston.
Rothenberg said the league has “more than $75 million” in investment money and that it had added AT&T; as its 10th sponsor Tuesday.
“For the past 15 months, we have been working--mostly behind the scenes--to create a foundation for Major League Soccer eventually to take its place as the fifth major professional team sport in the United States,” he said.
“The building blocks have been laid for the most ambitious coast-to-coast professional soccer league in American history.”
The Los Angeles Galaxy will make its debut April 13 at the Rose Bowl, according to Danny Villanueva Jr., the team’s president and general manager.
The Galaxy will play 16 league games and three international games at the Rose Bowl, most of them on Sunday afternoons, Villanueva said.
The team’s home uniform--the colors are described as “black, chili red, Kenyan gold and juniper"--will be basic black, with the other colors used as trim.
Why Galaxy? Villanueva was asked.
“We’re the city of the stars,” he said.
“We had some other names that we discussed, but they didn’t seem to work quite so well with the translation into other languages [primarily Spanish]. Galaxy seemed to work much, much better.”
Villanueva said the team has a short list of coaches--believed to include former U.S. national and Olympic team coach Lothar Osiander, Cal State Los Angeles Coach and former Mexico World Cup player Leonardo Cuellar, and UCLA Coach Sigi Schmid--and will name its choice in three or four weeks.
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MLS Unveils Teams and Names Players
Major League Soccer, which kicks off its inaugural season on April 6, named its 10 teams and unveiled their logos.
The Look of the League:
Los Angeles Galaxy
Washington D.C. United
San Jose Clash
New England Revolution
New York-New Jersey Metro Stars
Kansas City Wiz
Tampa Bay Mutiny