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Legends promise to return in 2016

His team came close to taking the next step, but Las Vegas Legends owner Meir Cohen said he’s equally concerned about the direction of the Major Arena Soccer League as he is his team failing to reach the Newman Cup championship.

The Legends were ousted in the MASL Western Conference finals Sunday, falling to the Monterrey Flash 7-4 in Mexico after losing Game 1 to the Flash last Friday at the Las Vegas Sports Park, 7-6. The Legends had also reached the final four when they competed in the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL) last year. That league merged with the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) to form the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL), which had 23 teams competing this season.

“It was frustrating at times,” Cohen said. “We need a strong commissioner. A lot of owners are disappointed with (MASL commissioner) Kevin Milliken. I wouldn’t let him run my Little Kickers program, let alone a professional league.

“But there’s great owners in this league and we’re creating a new platform for next year. We’ll have better leadership, a better schedule, one set of rules for everybody. You’ll see. It will be totally different.”

The MISL teams that came over had different rules than the PASL teams. The early rounds of the playoffs for instance were best of two with a mini-game if tied for the Eastern Conference while the West played one-game elimination contests. It wasn’t until the finals that the Legends played multiple games.

“It was a challenge trying to get everyone on the same page,” Cohen said. “It hurts the league’s credibility when you aren’t playing by one set of rules.”

Coach Doug Borgel, who led the team to a second-place finish in the Pacific Division at 13-7, said he would like to stay with the team, but not necessarily as head coach.

“I had a really good time,” he said. “It was enjoyable. But it placed a heavy demand on my time away from my family and my other coaching.” (Borgel is also the coach at Bishop Gorman High School.)

Cohen said a new head coach is likely for the Legends next year with Borgel serving as an assistant if he wishes to. But Cohen, who had coached the team previously, said he has no plans to return to the bench.

“I need to concentrate on building the business side of the team,” he said.

The Legends played the majority of their home games at the Orleans Arena this season and averaged 1,469 fans for 10 dates, 13th best in the MASL. The league’s average attendance was 2,451. The team played its final regular home game at the Sports Park as well as the one playoff game it hosted.

Cohen said he is looking into playing next season in the Thomas & Mack Center. The Legends are working with the Las Vegas Outlaws of the Arena Football League to share the soccer team’s training facility in Summerlin and that could lead to working a deal to play next season in the Thomas & Mack Center. The expansion Outlaws open their AFL season March 30 at the Thomas & Mack.

“We’re looking at all options,” Cohen said. “We had a great experience playing at the Orleans and we’re talking to them about next year. But we may look at the Thomas & Mack too. All I can tell you is that we will be playing next season and we will be playing in Las Vegas.”

Cohen said with Major League Soccer off the table as an option for the city’s soccer fans, he wants the Legends to be the team Las Vegas rallies around.

“We know there’s a big soccer community in Las Vegas,” he said. “I think there may have been some divided loyalty with the effort to bring the MLS here. But now that we know that’s not going to happen, we need to reach out to those fans and have them come out and support us as we’re the only professional soccer team in the city.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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