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Marilyn Lange could play any position, the NASL figured

January 15, 2009 | 11:15 am

Marta

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 BigAppleSoccer.com 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