"I was never relaxed playing with the Washington Diplomats," said Leroy DeLeon, bitter at being traded by Washington to San Jose on Monday for forward Mark Liveric.
"If I scored a goal, everybody was your friend. If we lost and I didn't score, no one would speak to me. I got to the point where I just didn't need that."
The surprise trade by general manager John Carbray and coach Dennis Viollet of the all-time leading scorer in Washington pro soccer history, left DeLeon confused and angry.
"I really loved Washington." said the 29-year-old Trinidadian. "I didn't see this coming. It really hit me kind of hard. I was playing as well as anyone on the team."
Viollet said he has always wanted Liveric and "to get quality, you have to give up quality.
"The change of scenery may help both players," said Viollet.
The 24-year-old Liveric scored 10 goals and recorded nine assists for San Jose last season, 14th in scoring in the Morth American Soccer League. He, along with Ilija Mitic (37 points) and Paul Child (34), led the Earthquakes to the Southern Division title and a semifinal berth in the playoffs.
Liveric did not score for San Jose (1-2) this year.
DeLeon was one of the remaining two Washington Darts on the Dips' roster (John Kerr is the other). After a three-year stint with the now-defunct Darts, DeLeon played for the now-defunct New York Generals and the Miami Toros before joining the Dips four years ago.
DeLeon, who finished sixth and third twice in the league in scoring while with the Darts, scored 13 goals and 11 assists (47 points) with the Dips.
The quiet, shy DeLeon was injured part of the '76 season yet managed 19 points. He did not score in three games this season.
"Every time Dennis (Viollet) brought in another English player, I was switched to another position," said DeLeon. "Maybe he just wanted an excuse to bench me. But he couldn't because I was playing as well as everybody else. Everything was English, English, English. I had to fit in around them."
"He has veteran players on the team now that are as good as the players he brought in," added DeLeon. "Time will tell. I hope Washington wins for Dennis' sake."
"I'm surprised he felt that way," said Viollet about DeLeon's charges. "I've always considered him one of the most skillful players around and maybe that's why I demanded more from him."
DeLeon observed a difference between Viollet and his new coach, Gabbo Gavric, on his first day of practice in San Jose.
"He asked me where I wanted to play," said DeLeon. "I said, 'Wow, that's a switch.'"
Playing in front of a packed stadium should also inspire the talented DeLeon. The Earthquakes have finished in the top five in attendance in their three years in the league. Their per-game average has been 17,928.
DeLeon leaves a club that is struggling at the gate. The Dips (1-2) averaged 7,857 for their first three home dates.
DeLeon said he felt Washington wouldn't draw at FRK Stadium until more promotional efforts are made in the city, instead of concentrating on suburban Maryland and Virginia.
"The kids from the suburbs play soccer and will come to the games," said DeLeon. "They have to get the city kids."
A 10-year NASL veteran, DeLeon earned approximately $8,000 here for the short soccer season. He said the Quakes gave him a $2,000 raise, a rent-free apartment and the use of an automobile.
"Those things are nice," said DeLeon, "but I plan to earn them. I came to play."
The flashy striker will get his chance to strike back at Viollet when the Dips play at San Jose May 23 and the Quakes come here July 16.