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L.A. Salsa Soccer Team to Play Home Games at Fullerton

July 31, 1992|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Salsa, which will begin play in the American Professional Soccer League in 1993, reached a three-year agreement with Cal State Fullerton to play home games in the new Titan Sports Complex, the team announced Thursday.

William De La Pena, a Montebello ophthalmologist who owns the team, also announced that Rick Davis, former U.S. National Team captain and New York Cosmos standout in the late 1970s and early '80s, would be the Salsa's general manager, and Rildo Menezes, former Brazilian National Team member, would be the team's coach.

The APSL currently has franchises in Tampa Bay, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Denver and San Francisco and plays from May to September. The Salsa will play a minimum of 20 games a season at Fullerton, including playoff games and international exhibitions, on Saturday nights.

Salsa officials said they were attracted to Fullerton by its 10,000-seat stadium's field--though also used for football, the sports complex can accommodate a larger, regulation-sized soccer field--and its location.

"It's the best field for soccer in California and may be the best soccer stadium in America," De La Pena said. "Soccer is not the same on a smaller field or on Astroturf. And the stadium is easily accessible from Los Angeles and Orange counties."

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but it should be a boon to the Titans' athletic department. The Salsa probably will pay the school a certain percentage of gate receipts for each game and fees to cover security, ticket-takers, ushers and other game-day operations.

Titan soccer Coach Al Mistri, who coached Davis at Damien High School in La Verne, expects the presence of a pro team--and Davis, considered one of the finest American soccer players ever--to boost his program, too.

"This will be a place where young men can see that they can make a living playing soccer, and we have a direct route to that," Mistri said. "The best player in Orange County will still go to UCLA, but we should have a much easier time (recruiting) the other players."

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