SAN DIEGO — The Las Vegas Americans and the shootout are memories as the Major Indoor Soccer League kicks off its eighth season Friday night.
Midfielder Juli Veee, goalkeeper Alan Mayer and Coach Don Popovic are among the Americans who will be with different teams this season. Las Vegas folded and joined the once mighty Cosmos as former MISL franchises.
Veee is back with the Sockers, for whom he enjoyed his greatest seasons. He was the leading scorer for the Sockers' first three indoor championship teams.
The Sockers won their fourth in a row without him last year, and now he will team with Steve Zungul in a potent "front court" which might soccer's version of the Houston Rockets' Twin Towers.
Mayer, meanwhile, has moved to the Kansas City Comets and Popovic is coach with the Pittsburgh Spirit. Other Las Vegas players have scattered throughout the MISL.
The Las Vegas franchise died a while back, but the shootout was only killed this week. Incredibly, only four days before the season was to start, the MISL enacted a number of rules changes Monday.
Games will now continue in 15-minute sudden-death overtime periods until they are decided, rather than one overtime period and then an individual one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
It all starts with four games Friday night, the main event taking place when San Diego plays at Baltimore in a rematch of last year's championship series. Those teams also played for the 1982-83 MISL championship.
The 12-team, 48-game schedule runs through April 6.
A look at the MISL:
Kansas City Comets (22-26, Fourth)--The Comets are solid in goal with Manny Schwartz and newly acquired Alan Mayer. Schwartz, the team's most valuable player last season, was 19-15 with a 4.15 goals against average. San Diego fans will remember his acrobatic performance against the Sockers in the semifinal playoff series. Mayer signed a three-year contract with the Comets. He was 17-12 with a 4.23 goals-against average with Las Vegas. . . . Coach Rick Benben took over the team after 13 games last season and led them to a 19-16 mark. . . . The Comets acquired Johan Neeskens and John Cerin. Neeskens is the only MISL player to have played in two World Cup finals (1974 and '78 with Holland). Cerin scored more than 300 goals in a 10-year outdoor career in Yugoslavia. It will the first year of indoor play for both. . . . Forward Charlie Fajkus had 31 goals and 24 assists last season, midfielder Tasso Koutsoukos had 25 goals and 26 assists and former Socker forward Laurie Abrahams had 23 goals and 16 assists in 24 games. . . . Defender Ty Keough was acquired from St. Louis.
Los Angeles Lazers (24-24, Third)--Coach Peter Wall was named 1984-85 MISL Coach of the Year by the coaches. . . . Goalkeeper Mike Mahoney was 20-18 with a 4.76 goals-against average. . . . Lazers sold last year's top scorer Stuart Lee (42 goals and 15 assists) to St. Louis. Forward Willie Holano had 33 goals and 22 assists, Poli Garcia had 20 goals and 31 assists and Batata had 19 goals and 17 assists in 40 games. . . . The Lazers acquired midfielder Dave Madden from Charlton of the Second Division in England, midfielder Kai Steffen of the Hamburg Sportsclub and California Surf and Darryl Gee of the Tulsa Roughnecks. . . . Lazers signed midfielder Amr Aly of Columbia University, the Herman Trophy as the best collegiate soccer player in the country last season.
St. Louis Steamers (24-24, Fifth in Eastern Division)--The Steamers have a new coach and are in a new division. Pat McBride moved from Kansas City to St. Louis. Dallas moved to the Eastern Division and St. Louis switched to the Western. . . . McBride brought defender Greg Makowski (13 goals and 20 assists) and midfielder Mark Fredrickson (11 goals, 2 assists) from Kansas City. Steamers also acquired Stuart Lee, who scored 42 goals for the Lazers last season. . . . Returnees include midfielders Ricky Davis (27 goals and 31 assists), Don Ebert (33 goals and 20 assists) and Redmond Lane (23 goals and 15 assists). Goalkeeper Slobo Ilijevski had a 17-12 mark with a 4.00 goals-against average.
Tacoma Stars (17-31, Sixth)--The Stars acquired the winningest goalkeeper in MISL history. Mike Dowler was 20-20 with a 4.49 goals-against average at Wichita last season. He has 1,088 career victories. Dowler will be joined by John Baretta, who was 11-13 with a 4.65 goals-against average. . . . The Yugoslavian connection has brought forward Predrag Radosvljevic and defender Lou Stojanovic from the Red Star team to the Pacific Northwest. . . . Forward Dale Mitchell led the Stars with 55 goals, 32 assists and 10 game winning goals.