Seven members of the Washington Diplomats have decided to go home to England to play during the English soccer season. They may not return to Washington next season.
Loan players Alan Green and Don McAllister will be back only if the Dips can purchase their contract from their English clubs. McAllister's return seems likely. Green is questionable; his team, Coventry, is asking for upward of $200,000 for his contract.
Bobby Stokes, Kenny Hill, Jimmy Redfern and Mike Lester - all starters - may not be back as a result of their decision to play in England. Hill reported yesterday that general manager John Carbray said a replacement would be sought if Hill returns to England.
"John said he wanted a player who would stay here fultime," Hill said. "I appreciate his feelings but I felt in my own best interests I needed to go home this year I would like to stay in Washington next year if possible. I would like to play somewhere in the league if I can't play here."
Stokes, Lester and Redfern have already retunred to England to prepare for the English season.
The seventh player, Peter Sylvester, league MVP in 1974 with Baltimore, will definitely not be back. Sylvester did not play during the second half of the season and is not in the Dips' plans for 1978. He has apparently decided to remain in England next season.
Carbray, in Los Angeles for his father's wedding, could not be reached for comment. He has said in the past, however, that one of his goals is for all the Dips to remain in Washington fulltime.
The decision in July no to use loan players next season was one step in that direction. This may be step two.
The North American Soccer League will have a different look next year. There will be new teams - at least one and as many as four - and possibly several old teams playing in new cities with new names.
One expansion franchise has been awarded to the city of Denver. An Indianapolis group is interested in a franchise. And at least seven other cities are considered possibilities for NASL play next year.
They are Boston, Philadelphia, Anaheim, Atlanta, Columbus (Ohio) Milwaukee and Cleveland. Milwaukee is considered a prime candidate for a team as are Boston and Philadelphia which have had NASL [WORD ILLEGIBLE]
Sources say the league is planning [WORD ILLEGIBLE] and perhaps as many as 24.
One team - the Connecticut Bicentennials - will be moving to another city. The Bi's, who averaged around 4,000 fans per game in lightless Yale Bowl, are for sale. They may be harded for Anhcim.
During the season, two other teams, Toronto and Rochester, both with attendance problems were rumored to be moving. It now appears, however, they will stay in place for at least another year. Las Vegas may also be moving, although the Quicksilvers have been pleased with initial response to 1978 season ticket queries.
Both the expansion and franchise [WORD ILLEGIBLE] pictures win become clearer when playoffs conclude Aug. 28.
Diplomats' goalkeeper Eric Martin has been named NASL's defensive player-of-the-week for his 12-save performance Saturday night against the Cosmos.
Martin, 31, was especially spectacular in the second half, protecting the Dips' 2-1 lead despite the fact the town was playing man short.