Don’t worry, Tacoma Stars fans — the club and the Major Arena Soccer League are alive and well and planning for the 2016-17 season.
The issue arose this week with the news that Baltimore Blast owner Ed Hale is moving his MASL champions into a new league of his own creation: the Indoor Professional League.
For now, there are four teams: the Blast, the Harrisburg Heat and the St. Louis Ambush — all formerly of the MASL — and a new team in Lakeland, Florida, called the Tropics. Hale said he plans to eventually corral eight to 10 teams.
The move mystified Stars owner Lane Smith but didn’t seem to shake his belief in the future of the MASL.
“It’s crazy,” Smith said. “It’s bad for the sport. But it is what it is. I just can’t imagine them getting much traction. And it’s pretty much just an East Coast thing anyhow, so it really does not affect Tacoma.”
Nor does it seem to shake the MASL as a whole, at least according to its vice president of business development, Kevin Milliken.
“This is nothing new,” he said. “(Hale) tried to do this last year, and he didn’t get his league off the ground. We allowed him to come back by a narrow vote and play again this year, and then he turned around and did the same thing. We can’t control what other people do. We can control what we do as a league, and I think most of the owners have shown a lot of strength and solidarity and want to move forward in a positive direction.”
Milliken noted that he will be in Texas next week to announce the creation of an expansion team there. After that, the league expects to announce a move into Canada. That will combine with the USA teams and the three teams in Mexico — and perhaps four, if Monterrey returns — to make the MASL a truly North American league.
That was the plan all along. Just check the MASL logo, which incorporates red, white, blue and green, the colors of the three North American nations.
“We’re going to keep moving forward on our path that we originally started on,” Milliken said, “which is new growth, improvement, keep adding new teams and looking forward to an exciting new season.”
For now, the MASL stands as a 19-team league. The Stars will begin their second full season this fall, once again playing at ShoWare Center in Kent.
Seattle Sounders FC general manager Garth Lagerwey told KJR-AM radio Thursday that he expects the club’s new designated player to come from the secondary transfer window, which will run July 4 through Aug. 3. … The Sounders trained Thursday at CenturyLink Field with the Copa America Centenario trophy shining from the fringe of the pitch. The trophy will show up around the area for another couple of days, including public viewing opportunities 10:30-11:20 a.m. Friday at Pike Place Market, 10-11 a.m. Saturday at MOHAI, 11a.m.-noon Saturday at the UW Windemere Cup competition, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday at The Ninety at the Sounders’ downtown offices and 5:45-6 p.m. Saturday at Occidental Park. That will be at the start of the March to the Match preceding the Sounders’ home game at 7 p.m. Saturday against the San Jose Earthquakes. … Seattle Reign FC announced the signing of Paige Nielsen, a defender from the University of North Carolina who was the 25th overall pick in the 2016 NWSL college draft.