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RIDGE MAHONEY: The floundering Fusion
July 30th, 1998 12AM
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The firing of head coach "Cacho" Cordoba in Miami is only the tip of a very fragile iceberg on which many reputations, including that of the league commissioner, rest perilously. After selling out its home opener at cozy Lockhart Stadium, Miami basked in the glow of success. That glow has quickly dimmed, despite operator-investor Ken Horowitz's opening-day pronouncement that "I always knew soccer would make it here." Well, Ken, MLS isn't making it in Miami, and unless you tear the team up by the roots, it won't. To be resolved are these dire problems: General manager Leo Stillitano has been a horrendous hire. Attendance has plummeted since opening day. Don't be surprised when he bows out at the end of the season. The hiring of operations veteran Betty D'Anjolell from D.C. United is not the first time another league team has come to the Fusion's rescue. Strident pleas from Horowitz to the league office at beginning of the year resulted in Columbus director of marketing John Borozzi moving to Miami. More petulance from Carlos Valderrama, combined with his inconsistent play, brings him and MLS to a crossroads. He hasn't been the draw the Fusion needs, and appears determined to cause the same schisms he wreaked in Tampa Bay. League commissioner Doug Logan sold the MLS management committee on Miami, where he used to work. His contract is up at the end of 1998, and right now, his status is tenuous. The league already has weakening franchises in Dallas, Kansas City, and Tampa Bay. If Miami can't turn it around, Logan could take the fall. The success of the other MLS expansion team in Chicago is an embarrassing barometer of Miami's start. These teams are striking examples of how to expand, and how not to. FANS: LET'S HEAR YOUR VIEW Is the Fusion floundering -- or is it too soon to judge? Click here to log onto (Soccer) American Graffiti. Then click on the topic entitled "Your View: The floundering Fusion" and respond to Ridge Mahoney in 200 words or less. Don't hold nothin' back! Best responses will be reprinted in Soccer America Magazine. If YOUR View is selected, we'll send you a cool t-shirt and pin... Because You're FANATIC.

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