Football: Outdoor league to kick off in States

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The Independent Online
A NATIONAL outdoor professional league in the United States, picking up where the North American Soccer League left off amid debts and apathy in 1985, was unveiled in Chicago last night in an attempt to build on any public enthusiasm generated by the World Cup.

Major League Soccer, scheduled to start in April next year, will have 12 participating 'communities'. Seven have already been confirmed: Boston, Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, San Jose, Washington DC and Columbus Ohio.

A further five franchises will be awarded, the successful candidates being chosen from Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Sacramento, Seattle, Tampa and Tulsa. Alan Rothenberg, the chief executive of World Cup USA '94 and the former owner of the NASL club the LA Aztecs, will be the chairman of the new organisation.

Among the venues for MLS will be the Foxboro Stadium near Boston, where England played last June; the LA Colliseum; and Meadowlands in New Jersey, the former home of the New York Cosmos.

Jack Charlton is playing down injury fears after Roy Keane became the latest Republic of Ireland player to be placed on the sidelines with their opening World Cup game against Italy due on Saturday. Keane has a strained groin muscle and Kevin Moran and Tony Cascarino have already been ruled out by knocks.

Charlton said: 'We don't take chances with anybody because this competition is going to last at least three weeks. I am not going to push anybody to reach fitness targets because I want them right on the day. Roy should be all right.'

Italy's preparation has been improved by news that the defender, Paolo Maldini, is set to play.