"I don't think Washington has proven it deserves a superstar," said Madison Square Garden President Sonny Werblin, referring to the 14,802 attendance yesterday at RFK when the Dips were eliminated from the NASL playoffs, 4-3.
"Here we have a playoff game with Johan Cruyff and we have the usual Washington crowd of 14,000. I still think it (soccer) will go here. We had a good product this year. I won't use the word disappointing about the attendance but I had hoped it would have been better."
Werblin said the Diplomats "definitely" will play in Washington next season, but, as in the past, he would make no comments beyond that.
"We're going to wait and see," he said. "This club reminds me a lot of my first year with the Jets. We just sat back and waited to see how things developed.
"I will say one thing, the crowd today was an enthusiastic and knowledgeable as any soccer crowd I've ever seen, including the ones in Giants Stadium."
While Werblin remained insistent that Washington had not "earned" a superstar, he did not rule out the possibility of the club buying one.
"We're still looking for the great striker," he said. "But then again, everyone is. We'll think about going a (Kevin) Keegan again. He might be here next year. But I'll have to talk to (Coach) Gordon (Bradley) about that."
Bradley said that if he could have his pick of players in the world, "Kegan would be first on my list. I'd like to have him. His contract is up this season but I don't know if he wants to come to America. If he does come here, I think he'll come to Washington."
Bradley and Keegan, European player of the year last season, are close friends.
Werblin would not discuss specific personnel, saying, "We had a good team this year. I hope it'll be better next year. I know one thing, though, I wouldn't trade our goalkeeper (Bill Irwin) for anyone."
Club President Steve Danzansky was more direct.
"This team is a couple of players short right now," Danzansky said. "We need to get a couple of top flight players. They don't necessarily have to be superstars, although that would be nice. But we need some help to make this more than a first-round playoff team."
The Dips have been in the playoffs three times and have yet to win a game, compiling an 0-4 record.
Werblin and Madison Square Garden Executive Vice-President Jack Krumpe were more interested in talking about the ejection of Alan Green than the club's future.
"I would think the league would find a way to prevent this from happening," said Werblin, who has been critical of the NASL all season. "I don't think it's good for the game to have our top players ejected in a playoff game."
Added Krumpe: "Someday they'll learn that you just can't take your product off the field. That's what they did to us today."
Green was ejected with 23:31 left for bumping the referee. Green, several Washington players and Werblin complained that Cruyff got special treatment from referee David Socha.
"Everytime Cruyff said a word, it was 'Yes, Johan, yes Johan,' " Green said. "I told the ref Cruyff was conning him and he said he was taking note of everything he said."
From Werblin on down, the Dips were unanimous in claiming that, without Cruyff, the Aztecs were much weaker than Washington.
"We outplayed them playing 10 against 11," Bradley said. "Without Cruyff, they're a very ordinary team."
And in keeping with the frequently bitter nature of his rivalry, Aztecs Coach Rinus Michels was ready with a response for Bradley.
"He exposed himself as a very ordinary coach," Michaels said. "If you win, you talk. If you lose, you keep quiet."