Twenty North American Soccer League teams will play indoors this winter but the Washington Diplomats will not be among them.
The Dips, the Cosmos, the Rochester Lancers and the Houston Hurricane are the only four NASL teams not planning to field teams in the indoor league. Ten teams played indoors last winter.
"We've got four basic reasons for not playing indoors," General Manager Andy Dolich said Friday. "First, we want to concentrate very heavily on improving our outdoor product.
"Second, with Johan Cruyff, Lozano and Wim Jansen we've had a number of feelers for international tours in Latin America, Europe and the Far East. Those are the kinds of things that can be very lucrative without your having to go through preparing for all the games. Someone else does it for you.
"Third, we couldn't come up with the proper situation at Capital Centre or the Starplex in terms of dates, lighting and other things.
"Finally, we're hosting Soccer Bowl. That means our staff if going to be heavily involved right through Sept. 21. To ask them to turn around and try to prepare for an indoor season which would start Nov. 15 might just be too much."
Clearly, the Dip's inability to come up with good playing dates at Capital Centre, was a major factor in management's decision to skip the indoor season. Just as clearly, the prospect of making back some of Madison Square Garden's huge investment in Cruyff, Lozano and Jansen, was equally as important.
One of the reasons the Cosmos don't play indoors is because it would interfere with their tours, which have paid very well the past few years.
Houston and Rochester are staying our of indoor soccer because they have been supplying players to the Major Indoor Soccer League through loans the last two winters.
In fact, the Hurricane recently filed suit to prevent the Houston Summit, the MISL team, from moving to Baltimore next season. The case is still in litigation.
When former Diplomat General Manager John Carbray returned to the San Jose Earthquakes in February as general manager he had little idea of how badly the situation had deteriorated since he left there in 1976.
The team had no coach and few players. It was coming off back-to-back 8-22 seasons. Carbray hired Bill Foulkes, former coach of the Chicago Sting, in late March and set about trying to put together a roster.
"How good are we?" he repeated Friday. "Let's put it this way: we stopped scrimmaging San Jose State because they kept beating us."
Still, the Earthquakes have built up a solid following in San Jose and are in the process of expanding Spartan Stadium from 17,000 to 30,000.
After losing their season opener in Los Angeles, 1-0, they returned home to prepare for their home opener, scheduled for April 12 against Edmonton.
When they arrived at the stadium they discovered a small problem: during construction a water main had broken. The field was under 1.5 million gallons of water -- three feet deep around the field.
"I've never seen anything like it in my life," Carbray said. "It looked like a swimming pool that had just been filled."
The home opener quickly was postponed. The Quakes were hoping the field would be ready by yesterday when they were scheduled to host Seattle. The Edmonton game has been rescheduled for April 23.
The Diplomats like to call news conferences and send out elaborate press releases when they acquire players. But when one is bounced, it's treated as a state secret. Case in point last week: Mike Bakic, part-time starter the last two seasons sold outright to the Houston Hurricane. Bakic, a Canadian, was plagued by injuries throughout his carrer here . . . The Dip's first two telecasts of the season scored the highest TV ratings the club ever has had: a 7 rating, 15 percent of the audience, against Tampa Bay and a 5 share, 12 percent of the audience the second time . . . Not only were the Cosmos whipped, 4-1, by Fort Lauderdale but the Strikers had three other goals called back . . . The Atlanta Chiefs had hoped their success in indoor soccer -- divisional title -- would help their outdoor attendance. Not so far: 6,50 showed up for the opener against New England.
Notes from the American Soccer League: The Pennsylvania Stoners, who played in Allentown, Pa., were looking for local sponsorship recently so they sold the front of their uniform jerseys to the biggest local industry in town. As a result their unifroms now read "Alpo" on the front. The Alpo dog food factory is in Allentown . . . The Phoenix Fire, an expansion franchise this Season, coached by former Seattle Sounder Coach Jim Gabriel, folded without playing a game.