Showcasing the area's best soccer, the nine-team Metropolitan Soccer League is winding down its 1984 season with six weeks of tryouts for l985. It plans to change from amateur to semiprofessional status and expand to 18 teams next year.
"We hope to have two divisions, one semiprofessional and one amateur, from the teams we already have," said Edward Senisse, the league president. "But we are giving other teams a chance. We want to have only the best."
"The league has grown so quickly and the quality of players has demonstrated the potential to play semipro. This is something we've been discussing with our membership to be able to finance the move," said Peter Castillo, the league's executive director and security chief. "We did want to take our time, however, so that we make sure it works, instead of having something like Team America."
Metropolitan started in l978, evolving from the National Soccer League. The top teams played Sunday matches at Fort Reno (40th and Chesapeake NW).
Most of the teams organized before the league did. The El Salvador Soccer Club arose in 1966. Only its president, Jose Crespin, who is also the league's vice president, remains from the original group. Some play in a 35-and-older league in Montgomery County.
El Salvador recently faced ADI (Asociacion Deportiva Intipuca) in the final of the Summer Cup, a four-week September tournament. ADI won, 1-0, in overtime. The match featured head-on competition between top players, including ADI's center forward Hugo Campos and right wing Julio Azucar, and El Salvador's right wing, Eduardo Guzman.
But the Italian team, sponsored by Cantina de Italia, won the 1984 league championship. Its center forward, Luis Armando Mendez, competed three years on the Mari Plata professional team in El Salvador.
The most impressive credentials belong to Marcos Casas Cordero of the Peruvian team which tied Chile, 1-1, in the playoffs. He competed in the 1978 World Cup.
"About five percent of these players would be professionals overseas, most of the others would be semiprofessional," said Joe Correia, a native of Portugal and one of 11 referees. "They play much more than other teams in the area do, stopping only when the snow falls."
Chile's Jaime Valencia, 21, was recruited at 17 for his country's professional team. He played there two seasons. He was noticed, along with teammate Alberto Rios, at the University of the District of Columbia.
"The players are a lot faster here," Valencia said. "They are very good."
Rios, 19, a Paraguayan native, was anxious to play in the league.