The Carolina Mudcats continued their mastery of the Chattanooga Lookouts on Friday night.
Meanwhile the Durham Bulls may have gotten a reprieve from the rain, as their series finale against the Toledo Mud Hens was canceled and the Bulls will come home on a five-game losing streak.
The Bulls will open a four-game series against the Pawtucket Red Sox tonight, in the Boston Red Sox affiliate’s only visit to Durham Bulls Athletic Park this season.
The brevity of a telephone call with Carolina RailHawks’ majority owner Selby Wellman highlights the precarious circumstances involving St. Louis soccer franchises AC St. Louis and Saint Louis Athletica.
Wellman, reached by telephone in Florida, stated he had no official or unofficial comment on the St. Louis situation at this time, per an agreement between league owners and at the behest of the United State Soccer Federation (USSF), who is overseeing the 2010 D2 soccer season.
“We were alerted to this situation last week, and we decided any calls all have to be directed to the Federation,” said Wellman. “When you’ve got 12 teams out here and everybody’s talking, everybody will say something different.”
While Wellman said he was not aware of particular details of St. Louis’ predicament, he stated that he knew “it’s a very difficult situation right now” that the USSF is working “actively” to resolve.
“It’s a challenge and it’s being worked through…My guess is that there will be some resolution by next week.”
Wellman also said that, for now, the USSF D2 match schedule will not be affected.
Media reports have suggested both St. Louis clubs are on the brink of collapse in the wake of crippling monetary concerns, and there have been unconfirmed reports about the possible departure of minority owner and NASL interim commissioner Jeff Cooper. There are also reports circulating about the financial woes of another NASL club, Crystal Palace Baltimore.
AC St. Louis, the expansion team for the USSF D2 Pro League, and the Saint Louis Athletica of the Women's Professional Soccer league, both owned in part (at least until very recently) by Jeff Cooper, a St. Louis lawyer, are in serious financial disarray, according to multiple reports.
Firm, on-the-record comments are in short supply, but different news sources are reporting that the cash flow for the two teams has dried up, and that payroll obligations have not been met. There appears to be the possibility that both clubs could fold mid-season.
Inside Minnesota Soccer's Brian Quarstad, the country's most informed reporter on America's lower divisions, extracted a vague quote from Neil Buethe, a spokesman for the U.S. Soccer Federation, in which he said, “U.S. Soccer is aware of some challenges that are currently going on and we are diligently working through the situation.”
Quarstad and others are reporting that Cooper, an owner of the franchises and the public face of professional soccer in St. Louis, has stepped away from the clubs. Tom Timmerman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that two investors from London, Sanjeev and Heemal Vaid, are the majority owners of AC St. Louis.
There will be more to come. Reports suggest that the USSF is working to find fresh funds that will allow the two clubs to continue operating.
For Carolina RailHawks fans, the situation with AC St. Louis will seem disturbingly apt as they witnessed an inauspicious start for the club in its very first game, played Saturday, April 10, at WakeMed Soccer Park. The new team played the first 30 minutes with only 10 players.
There are many troubling ramifications of these reports. One of the less serious ones concerns scheduling: If AC St. Louis folds, Carolina would lose its one remaining game against that team, but other clubs, because of the unbalanced schedule, could be looking at three- or four-game holes in their schedules.
Of greater concern is what this means for the health of Division 2 soccer in America in general, and the fledgling North American Soccer League in particular. Cooper is the interim commissioner of NASL, and his involvement in NASL followed his unsuccessful bid for an Major League Soccer franchise and his unsuccessful attempt to purchase the United Soccer Leagues. Here's an interesting interview with Cooper that was conducted by Peter Wilt and published by pitchinvasion.net in February. The story begins with this:
This week’s column is a Q & A with Jeff Cooper, one of the most fascinating leaders in American soccer. Cooper, a St. Louis area attorney and businessman, plunged into professional soccer only a few years ago and in that short time has arguably emerged as the most powerful man in soccer in the Midwest and one of the most influential in the country.
A more telling exchange occurs midway through:
What more did your group need to show MLS to get a team? What obstacles prevented you from meeting MLS’ standards?
JC: We needed more financial depth. It’s that simple.
We'll be following this story as it develops.
The Carolina Mudcats managed to end their short losing streak on the road Thursday night.
Denis Phipps tripled and single to lead the offense as the Mudcats topped the Chattanooga Lookouts 6-4 in a game stopped by rain after eight innings.
Meanwhile the Bulls’ recent scoring woes continued, as they dropped a 4-0 decision to the host Toledo Mud Hens that was their fifth straight defeat.
The Mudcats play Game 2 of their five-game set with the Lookouts Friday night, while the Bulls will finish up their Toledo series Friday before returning home Saturday against the Pawtucket Red Sox.
The schedule includes such classics as Bend it Like Beckham and Victory, and the venues include the Galaxy Cinema in Cary, the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, the Lumina Theatre in Chapel Hill and The Pinhook bar in Durham. Additionally, area art house movie theaters will show a new film starring 1990s soccer star Eric Cantona, while two documentaries will also be screened.
The Carolina RailHawks are joining the Indy in this enterprise, and head coach Martin Rennie is expected to make an appearance before a screening of Looking for Eric, a new film that opens in local art houses June 11. This critically acclaimed Ken Loach comedy features French superstar Eric Cantona, who played for Manchester United in the 1990s, as a sort of imaginary friend/life coach to a middle-aged postal worker in Manchester.
As it happens, Rennie counts himself among the fans of the famously quirky—and gifted—player. “Eric Cantona is one of my all-time favorite players,” Rennie tells us. “I look forward to discussing the movie and Cantona with like-minded soccer fans.”
For the growing numbers of soccer fans in this country, the countdown to the game on June 12 between the U.S. and England began months ago. Meanwhile, more casual fans are now picking up on the buzz. For the latter, the FIFA World Cup can be a phenomenon not unlike the Olympics, which quadrennially turns us into fans of such sports as curling and gymnastics. But with a lineup of films throughout the Triangle in early June, from documentaries and classics to new and recent feature films, the Independent hopes to spread understanding and appreciation for the world's most popular game, and create an opportunity for existing and new fans alike to join in the fun.
We'll have more information in the next couple of weeks, but the following events are scheduled and nailed down. We look forward to seeing you.
Below is our official announcement, and here is the RailHawks announcement.
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats close out their homestand tonight against the Jacksonville Suns, and while they may not be at .500 yet, at least they have their credibility back.
The Mudcats had a six-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday night, when they came up short in the nightcap of their doubleheader.
Jacksonville’s manager is veteran minor-league outfielder Tim Leiper, who was a player with the Mudcats and an assistant at N.C. State in the early 1990s.
It’s an unseasonably cool night as lefty Travis Webb takes on the Suns’ Jose Rosario.
Tonight is the Suns’ night, as they’re one bit hit better in a 7-6 victory.
The Durham Bulls are in the doldrums, and the offense has been the problem.
The Bulls have scored just six runs during the skein.
It was such a bad day that ace Jeremy Hellickson (6-2) suffered his second loss.
Ryan Ketchner (1-2) was the winning pitcher, while Casey Fien collected his second save.
Robinzon Diaz led Toledo with three hits including a double. Scott Sizemore added a double and a single with two RBI.
Alvin Colina led the Bulls with two hits and an RBI.
The Bulls return home Saturday night against the Pawtucket Red Sox.
The Carolina Mudcats won their sixth straight game Tuesday night and then saw the streak broken.
Meanwhile the Durham Bulls weren’t quite able to complete a comeback on the road, dropping their third straight decision in a 5-3 loss to the Toledo Mud Hens.
The Mudcats complete their five-game set against Jacksonville in the finale of their homestand tonight.
The Bulls will have to get up early, taking on the Mud Hens in one of those “Education Day” morning specials.
The Carolina Rollergirls returned to action Saturday night at Dorton Arena in Raleigh. The marquee match between the Carolina Rollergirls' A squad, the All-Stars, and the Detroit All-Stars, went to the visitors. The final score was 138-62, and the bout included several grand slams and double grand slams. This was the fourth time the Carolina All-Stars have met the Detroit All-Stars, bringing their overall match record to two victories apiece.
In the night's undercard bout, the Carolina Bootleggers went down fighting against the Cape Fear Rollergirls, 129-83.
Here's a link to my story in last week's Indy about the Carolina Rollergirls.
The Durham Bulls dropped their second straight game and nearly got shut out on the road.
Carlos Santana was the big hero for the Columbus Clippers, knocking a grand slam and a solo homer as they beat the Bulls 5-1 at Huntington Park to earn a split of their four-game series.
The Bulls visit the Toledo Mud Hens for the opener of their four-game series on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile the Mudcats and Jacksonville Suns were rained out at Five County Stadium, setting up a twi-night doubleheader on Tuesday.