Veterans Johnny Kerr and Tony Macken have been told by the Washington Diplomats that they will not play for the soccer club any more this season because they do not fit into the Dips' "future plans'.'
Both Macken and Kerr were left behind when the team flew to Hawaii yesterday morning (defender Alex Pringle was on the flight, his injured left ankle having been pronounced fit for action).
Kerry, 33, has asked to be put on walvers and Macken, 26, will return to England later this week. Washington general manager John Carbray has given Kerr permission to negotiate with other teams.
"The whole thing came as a surprise to all of us." Kerr said. "After game last night (the Dips beat San Jose, 3-0) we were told we wouldn't be traveling to Hawaii. Then John Carbray told me I didn't fit into their plans for next year and they were going to be looking at younger players the rest of this year."
Kerr has played in the North American Soccer League nine years, the last two with the Dips. He has been the club's director of community relations for two years, organizing ooffseason clinics at local schools, Kerr has said several times he would like to settle in Washington after retiring, and he owns a house in Falls Church.
Macken is in his second season with the Dips and was their fourth-leading scorer as a midfielder last year. He has one good in 15 games this year after missing the first five games because of commitments in England.
Washington does not own his contract. Macken, Don McAllister and Alan Green are the only players on the team currently not under permanent contract with the Dips.
"I feel just terrible right now." Macken said. "They told me I'm not in their future plans. How can I not be in their future plans? I played as hard as i could all year and now they treat me like this."
Club president Steve Danzansky said the decision to drop Macken was made as a result of a change in his feelings about loan players from England, who play in the NSAL during the British offseason.
"In the past I've gone along with the loan program because it enabled us to improve the caliber of play in the league," Danzansky said. "But I think the program has wreaked havoc on our team this year.
"When a player isn't part of the community he just doesn't give that little extra ounce and it makes a difference. It's sort of like American baseball players who play in the Puerto Rican league. They just don't care as much."
Danzansky said the Dips had tried to purchase Macken's contract from Derby County of the English league, but the asking price was too high. He added that the club was still negotiating for the contracts of Green and McAllister.
"The demands for their contracts are more realistic," he said.
Kerr is under contract to the Dips. He said he could understand not fitting into next year's plans, but did not understand the timing of the move or the way it was carried out.
"I'm disappointed that after all the time and effort I've put in on and off the field that it would end this way," he said. "I know a lot of the players are very upset about this. You have to wonder if you're next when they start using the chopping block.
"There's been a lot of tension and pressure all year because we haven't been winning (the Dips, 9.11, are last in the East). We were just getting over that and now management has come in and destroyed it all in one swoop.
"I may be wrong but I think the team will be affected by this in Hawaii and Portland. Especially since former coach Dennis Viollet had promised the team everyone would make the trip to Hawaii. Carbray knew about that promise."
"That's not exactly true." Carbray said. "I told Dennis early in the season that we would only travel 14 players on our short trips so everyone could go to Hawaii. But we've sent 16 men on every trip. That chanced things."
Kerr. who had been the unofficial assistant coach the last two weeks under Alan Spavin, said he thought Spavin was upset by the turn of events.
"He's been trying to turn things around (the Dips are 3.2 since Spavin succeeded Viollet on June 29) and now they've stopped him. He was very unhappy," Kerr said.
Spavin would not be reached for comment, having left with the rest of the Dips to prepare for Tuesday night's game with Team Hawaii.