Washington Diplomats forward Tony Crescitelli, who refused an offer he described as "a disgrace" when drafted by Rochester this year, hopes to score and laugh in Lancer Coach Don Popovich's face today.
Crescitelli gets his first start when the Diplomats meet Rochester at RFK Stadium at 2:30 p.m.
"They (the Lancers) offered me something like $6,500 a year," the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Crescitelli said following yesterday's practice. "That was awful. So I decided not to sign and go back to the draft. I'd love to get one against them and laugh at that man."
The 22-year-old Long Island native was a prolific scorer (126 goals in four years) at North Adams (Mass.) State. He was picked on the first round by Washington in the secondary phase of the NASL draft. He has been used for spot duty by Diplomat Coach Gordon Bradley since reporting two months ago.
But midfielder Sakib Viteskic pulled a thigh muscle during a scrimmage Thursday and will not play today. Bradley then decided to start the exuberant and anxious Crescitelli.
"I'll move Bobby Stokes back to the midfield and start Tony up front with Paul Cannell and Ken Mokgojoa," Bradley said. "I like the idea of Paul and Tony up front. For the amount of time Tony's played, he's made things happen. He's anything but smooth, but he's quick, uses his body very well and is dangerous one on one."
The NCAA's leading scorer with 45 goals last year, Crescitelli nearly went bonkers sitting home waiting for Washington to call after he was drafted.
"Washington said they'd get in touch with me in a week," Crescitelli recalled. "But nearly two months went by before they called. I was sitting there crying, wondering what happened."
"I came here for the Atlanta game. I sat in the stands and watched my first pro game," he said.
Injuries to Alan Green and Joe Horvath, the team's No. 1 and 2 scorers, along with an inconsistency on offense, have forced Bradley to try Crescitelli.
"Two months ago I'd never have believed he'd make the team, but he's worked and earned a chance," said Bradley. "Right now we're hurting because of injuries. We've only scored one goal in the last three games. Tony could stir things up in there for us."
Bradley envisions a front line of Crescitelli, Mokgojoa and Cannell running Rochester ragged. All three players are quick and excellent without the ball.
The Lancers (5-8) defeated Washington, 1-0, in overtime on a deflected shot by Ibraim Silva in the club's first meeting at Holleder Stadium. Usually a strong second-half-of-the-season team, the Lancers have begun to move up in the standings. They defeated California and Philadelphia in their last two games, both by 2-1 scores.
"They have several strong players. (Miralem) Fazlic and (Nick) Mijatovic are tough on defense and (Mike) Stojanovic has been a good goal scorer for them for a long time," Bradley said. "They're in our division and we would like to beat them."
Washington, 10-5 with 89 points, had lost three of four games before pulling out a 2-1 shootout win in Detroit Wednesday night.
The Lancers hold a 6-4 edge over the Dips in this series. But Rochester has not won in Washington since it defeated the Dips, 3-2, in 1974. . . . Cannell who had three goals against New England, has not scored in his last four games. He still is third in team scoring with 16 points . . . Dips defender Mike Dillon has played every game.