Washington Diplomat reserve goalkeeper Bobby Stetler said today he is looking forward to starting but "unless something can be worked out, I may ask to be traded next season."
"It really doesn't matter how well I play," said Stetler, a five-year North American Soccer League veteran and the team's player representative. "I know I'm just filling a void until Bill (Irwin) gets healthy.
"I'm disappointed I haven't played at all this year. I haven't really set a timetable yet, but I know I don't want to always sit behind Billy. It's no reflection on Billy. He's a good goalie.
"I've spoken to Gordon (Bradley, Dip coach) about my playing time. If I can't play here, I want to go to another club where I can play. You get to the point when you have to make a move."
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Stetler would have replaced Irwin, who tore a hamstring, in last week's game against Dallas, but Washington had used all three substitutes allowed. Irwin, virtually helpless in the goal, played the final 24 minutes in obvious pain.
Stetler appeared in seven games last year, starting three in a row. The Dips won all three, including a shoot-out Seattle, and he finished the season with 22 saves and a 1.34 goals-against average. In 1977, Stetler was Eric Martin's (injured reserve) backup.
"I played well those three games on the road but when we came back home Billy was back out there," Stetler said.
In addition to Irwin, who will be out two to three weeks, the Dips will not have the services of midfielder Jimmy Steele, whose jaw was broken in the Dallas game. Midfielder Sakib Viteskic reinjured his knee during practice this week and is very doubtful for tonight's 7:35 match against the much-improved Fury (3-4).
The game will be on WTTG-TV-5 and can be heard on WTOP Radio (1500 AM).
Despite having three key starters out Joe Mallet, the assistant coach handling the team while Bradley recuperates from a hand injury, is confident Stetler, Rene Breevort and Sonny Askew can do the job.
"We have much more depth this season than we did a year ago," said Mallet. "We have good players we can use. We haven't reached the critical stage yet where we have to worry about injuries. We'll miss Jimmy in the middle. He was just beginning to get the feel of the midfield. Bobby (Stetler) will do a good job in place of Billy. He's been sharp in practice this week and appears to have worked himself into a good mental state for this one."
Stetler and his teammates, coming off two straight impressive victories, will get their first test of the year on Astro Turf. The Fury, winner of three of their four games at home, also will have in uniform English superstars Alan Ball and Frank Worthington, the leading scorer in the English First Division with 24 goals. Both finished their seasons in England this week.
"I understand he (Worthington) will play," said Stetler. "We might be playing our first game on Astro Turf, but so is he. I don't think there's any real disadvantage playing on the stuff. The ball just moves faster."
Washington's defense, which has been outstanding thus far, allowing only seven gaols while limiting opponents to 78 shots, will have to be a bit more cautious. Stetler has not played in a regular game since the middle of the '78 season and the slick surface is perfectly suited for the long-ball tactics of the Fury.
Bradley, who injured a hand in a lawn-mower accident, was released from George Washington Hospital yesterday afternoon. Bradley said he may fly to watch the team Saturday. The Dips are 1-1 on the road.