John Carbray, general manager of the Washington Diplomats the last three seasons, was fired yesterday and replaced by the club's marketing director, Andrew B. Dolich.
Although officials of Madison Square Garden, the team's owners, said Carbray resigned, it was learned that Garden President Sonny Werblin told Carbray last week he was out.
Carbray's firing had been rumored all season. The team's new owners were unhappy with attendance and blamed the club's off-field organization, not Gordon Bradley's coaching.
The Diplomats were 18-12 last season and were eliminated in the first round of the NASL playoffs. They averaged 12,177 fans for 16 home dates at RFK.
"I'm resigning because I'm tired, I want to take a vacation and I want to try some new things," Carbray said yesterday. He will remain with the club as a consultant for the time being.
Dolich, 31, has been with the Dips a year. He came from the Washington Capitals, where he was marketing director until leaving due to a dispute with team owner Abe Pollin.
It seemed apparent that the Dips would go all out to sign English superstar Kevin Keegan, Dolich said yesterday:
"I think it's very important to this organization that we sign Kevin Keegan or someone like him. Washington is an event town. The people here do not react to mundane things. We need to make this team exciting, make it an event so we can market it. Now, we have a solid workmanlike team. Keegan can make it more than that."
Keegan, 28, plays for Hamburg in the German League, but his contract ends soon. He and Bradley are close friends and Bradley has said that if Keegan plays in the NASL he will play for Washington.
Carbray's removal comes just as Dips' officials and Garden officials are preparing to discuss marketing and personnel for 1980.
Carbray, 40, was general manager of several minor league baseball teams before breaking into soccer in San Jose in 1976. He stayed there a year. During that season San Jose doubled its attendance and won its division.
The former owner of the Diplomats, San Juan Racing Inc., hired Carbray in October 1976 when the Dips were playing in a Virginia high school football stadium and averaging 3,000 fans a game.
Carbray, known for his promotional stunts, and Steve Danzansky, team president, moved the Dips to RFK Stadium and began giving away tickets in 1977. Attendance averaged more than 13,000 a game, less than half of it paid.
In 1978 average attendance dropped to 10,800, but paid attendanced jumped to about 7,000 a game. Last season, more than 85 percent of the attendance was paid.
"I think Washington is on the right track as a soccer town," Carbray said recently. "Right now we are right where soccer is at in this country. Soccer is not New York and 70,000 people, and it's not Philadelphia and 4,000. It's us, 12,000.
"I think Washington will make it as a soccer town if the Garden is patient with it. We have a great fan base. We need to build on it."
"We wish John Carbray only good things," MSG executive vice president, Jack Krumpe said yesterday. "He has resigned and that is all we're going to say about it."
Team officials said that Carbray's removal had been expected since the season ended. "They had to make some kind of move to prove they care," said one club official. "Gordon's a good friend of Werblin's, so he's not going anywhere. That left John. He never really had a chance of coming back next year even it he had done a great job this year."
At 31, Dolich becomes the NASL'S youngest general manager. "We're glad Andy could take the job," Krumpe said. "This way we won't have anyone speculating that Clive Toye (recently resigned president of the Chicago Sting) is coming here."