Kicking+Steaming

Handwriting experts, Bosnian profanity and televised breakups: all part of Michael Hetelson's revolutionary vision for indoor soccer in St. Louis

"I should take them out to a strip club after every loss," jokes Hetelson, who fesses up to treating his team to a steak dinner at Delilah's, a Philly flesh emporium, after the previous Sunday's loss.

Ensconced in the Savvis Center owners' suite with St. Louis soccer legends Slobo Ilijevski and Ty Keough (one of the Steamers' current television commentators), Hetelson grips a bourbon and Coke -- he and his chums ran up a $2,100 bar tab during the previous home game -- and chats about his plans for the Spinks-Judah fight and the Super Bowl, both of which he had every intention of attending in person. But foremost in his mind is a scheduled appearance with Kennedy on ESPN's Cold Pizza.

"We'd like to establish this as a national brand," Hetelson says defiantly. "I'm losing money now, but I expect to make money in the short term. January was our first close-to-break-even month. Traditionally, this is the sweet part of the season. There's less youth soccer, there're less conflicts with other events. But we've also been steadily building momentum. That's why we timed our TV broadcasts to begin after the football playoffs -- so we could capitalize on the time where there aren't any other sports to compete with."

"Suck on a dick, Chicago!" Sani Zigic (at far right) and 
a handful of Fanaticos prep for a road trip to Chicago 
to cheer on their beloved Steamers.
Eric Fogelman
"Suck on a dick, Chicago!" Sani Zigic (at far right) and a handful of Fanaticos prep for a road trip to Chicago to cheer on their beloved Steamers.
Tim Parker

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Down on the Savvis floor, the boys in orange are going nuts, notching their seventh goal just six minutes into the second quarter. In the end they'll prevail 11-5.

"Those guys are pumped," says Hetelson, hastily ordering a go cup for a trip to the bench. "I've got to go down there!"

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