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Marilyn Lange could play any position, the NASL figured

January 15, 2009 | 11:15 am


Today is draft day in Major League Soccer, but rest assured, MLS will not be trying to sign Marta, Abby Wambach, Birgit Prinz or any other top-name female player.

That sort of publicity gimmick disappeared -- presumably for good -- more than three decades ago, when the late, lamented North American Soccer League was exhibiting all kinds of strange behavior.

Veteran soccer writer Michael Lewis recalled on that less than a year after the Cosmos signed Pele and launched an American soccer revolution, the Chicago Sting and the Tampa Bay Rowdies used their fourth-round picks in the 1976 NASL draft to select women.

Chicago picked Marilyn Lange, Playboy magazine’s 1975 Playmate of the Year, who at least had some credentials -- other than the obvious ones. She had played some soccer while living in Hawaii.

As Jim Walker, the Chicago team’s general manager, put it at the time: “We liked what we saw.”

The Sting and the Rowdies are no more. Need you ask why?

-- Grahame L. Jones

Photo: Brazilian midfielder Marta reacts after receiving the 2008 FIFA women's world footballer of the year award on Monday in Zurich, Switzerland. The award was her third in a row. Credit: Fabrice Coffrini / AFP/Getty Images