The Washington Diplomats, seeking help in the front line in time for Sunday's North American Soccer League opener against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, got it last night when they signed former Dip forward Alan Green to a three-year contract.
Green, who played for Washington in 1977, flew here from England last night and, after talking with Coach Gordon Bradley for two hours, signed a contract of undisclosed terms. Bradley, who had been in England the past week looking for a goal scorer, said he was extremely pleased at signing Green. He said the swift 25-year-old will be in uniform Sunday.
"I had had about enough of England, anyway," said Green, who had played 11 years for Coventry City, a First Division club in England. "I wasn't getting to play as much as I felt I should and since my manager and I didn't see everything eye to eye, I felt it was best to leave.
"The money is one factor and I liked my stay in Washington while I was here. I wanted to come back," said Green, who scored nine goals and had five assists in his 16-game stint in 1977. "I feel I can come back and do a good job. I want to play."
The addition of Green, who averaged one goal every three games during his pro career, will give Washington one of the quckest front lines in the league. However, the 5-foot-8, 145-pound Green will be expected to carry much of the brunt of the attack until starters Paul Cannell and Ken Mokgojoa get in the lineup.
"I'm pleased with the deal. Alan understood what I wanted from him and he has agreed to the terms," said Bradley. "He knew I wanted him full time. There were a few complications, like him postponing his wedding, but we worked them out. I wanted him back last year, but the club would not release him."
Cannell, the leading scorer in the club's history, underwent an operation for calcium deposits in his shin earlier this month and is not expected back until the middle of April. Mokgojoa, who has blinding speed and scored 10 goals in his first year with the club last season, is completing his final year with his South African team and will not join Washington until mid-April.
With his two top scorers in limbo, Bradley had no choice but to go hunting for another forward.
"Alan and Paul would work very well together," said Bradley. "Both are only 25 (Mokgojoa is 24) and we want to build a good, young team here. Alan is a good scorer and we couldn't go into the season without good scoring up front."
Green is excellent on balls in the air and is equally dangerous with either foot.
Like Washington, the Strikers will be hurting up front. With English midfielder George Best still waiting to hear from FIFA on his fate (he was suspended indefinitely for walking out on his English club -- Fulham); Gerd Mueller not expected to report from his German team until May at the earliest; David Irving, the team's leading scorer, out with a hamstring, and top midfielder Colin Fowles out with a leg injury, the American Conference finalists of a year ago may be in for a long afternoon.
"We're not that bad," said Striker Coach Ron Newman, always calm. "Yes, we've got a few limping but we've got enough to play."
One player Newman will certainly use is Peruvian World Cup winger Teofilo Cubillas, one of the top players in South America.
A problem looming in the immediate future is the possibility of a players' strike. The NASL player representatives have called for a strike vote if the club owners fail to recognize their union by next Friday.
"We haven't asked for anything except for them to recognize our union," said Dip player representative Bobby Stetler."The situation is in the hands of management."
Several of the Washington players are undecided which route they plan to take.
"You strike, you get no money," said Washington's Jimmy Steele. "The union has no strike fund. I don't think our league is at the stage where it can afford to strike. Many of the guys here feel the same way.
"Bobby (Stetler) said the strike would last a week at the most. If that's the case, what's the use? We plan to meet later in the month and discuss it further. Right now, I'm not voting for any strike."