The city of Washington is the oddson favorite to be awarded the 1980 Soccer Bowl by North America Soccer League owners who will meet here this week.
The NASL will open four days of meetings here tomorrow and for the Washington Diplomats the highlights of these meetings will be Mayor Marion Barry's pitch to the owners for the Soccer Bowl, which he probably will deliver Wednesday.
Detroit, Vancouver and New England are also bidding for the game, players in Giants Stadium the last two years. But RFK Stadium is the most likely site right now as a result of a concerted effort by the Diplomats, Barry and local businessmen. The will propose a "soccer bowl festival" to the league which would last the entire week before the game.
Because the league would like the international status of playing in the United States capital, league insiders think Washington will be awarded the game.It probably will be played Saturday, Sept. 20. Barry, a member of the D.C. Armory Board which runs RFK Stadium has played a major role in efforts to get the game.
League members will make a number of decisions about the 1980 season this week. Among them are: how long a schedule to play: whether to accept a proposal to have teams play opponents in their division four times each instead of the current two: and perhaps most important, whether to increase the required number of North Americans on the field from two to three.
The schedule will be expanded from 30 games to either 32 or 34 games, depending largely on whether the proposal to play four intradivisonal games is accepted.
Right now the second proposal does not seem likely to pass. If it did, the Dips would have to play the Cosmos, the Toronto Blizzard and Rochester four times each. The Cosos and the Blizzard will probably be two or the league's strongest teams next year.
The issue of a third American might be hotly contested. The league's longrange format calls for adding an American every two years. But many in the league think the quality of play will be endangered by requiring a third American and approval of the addition is expected to meet tough opposition.
League owners also will discuss the rising threat of the Major Indoor Soccer League. The MISL put itself in the news last week by signing a three-year collective bargining agreement with its 180 member players group headed by NASL Players Association leaders Ed Garvey and John Kerr.
The MISL has created a number of headaches for the NASL. To begin with, two NASL teams. Rochester and Houston are scheduled to compete in the MISL for a second year. Since the NASL for formed its own 10-team indoor league this winter, how can it justify allowing two ot its teams to play in a competing league? And how can it justify lending players to a competing league, which it did last season? Those questions will have to be answered before owners leave town Thursday.
The United States Olympic team, which was eliminated in a two-game series from 1980 Olymic qualifying last spring by Mexico is back in the competition. Upholding a protest by the U.S. Soccer Federation, the Federal International Football Association (FIFA) soccer's governing body, has eliminated Mexico from the sompetition for using professional players in its two wins over the United States.
As a result the United States now is in the second round of eliminations and will play Bermuda in a home-and-home series before the end of the year. The winner of that series will advance to a six-team round robin competition with other North American, Central American and Caribbean teams. The top two teams from that round robin will play in the Moscow Olymics.
A final note on deposed Diplomat General Manager John Cardsbray. In his three years here Carbray often was criticized for his brashness and sometimes wacky promotions. But he played a major role in turning a franchase drawing flies in a high school stadium into one drawing a legitimate 12,000 fans a game in RFK Stadium.
One Madison Square Garden official admitted after Carbray was fired that the move was made as much because the Garden had to show Gulf and Western that it was making some moves, as anything else. In other words, no matter what kind of job he did, Carbray didn't have a chance.
No one ever worked harder at a job than John Carbray did at his. It will be a loss for soccer if he decides not to remain connected with the game.