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Soccer - Pro

It’s a bull market for soccer

    When Bill Manning joined the front office of Major League Soccer’s fledgling Tampa Bay Mutiny in 2000, the question he said he recalled fielding the most was: “Is this league going to make it?”

    Two years later, the league contracted to 10 teams when the Mutiny and their intrastate rival, the Miami Fusion, folded.

    In April, Manning quit his job as an executive with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles to rejoin MLS as president of the three-year-old Real Salt Lake franchise in Utah. Since then, the question he said he has been asked the most is: “Where is the expansion franchise going?”

    “That’s a huge philosophical change in how people view this league,” he said. “This league is definitely thriving.”

    By some measures, yes. Others no. What’s clear is that investors are lining up to bet on the league’s potential.

    Portland is among eight North American locales vying to claim a stake in MLS. City leaders announced plans Wednesday to tentatively back sports executive Merritt Paulson’s bid for one of two expansion franchises that MLS plans to award by early next year.

    — Excerpt from The Oregonian, September 8, 2008


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