The Washington Diplomats, suffering from injuries and a three-game losing streak, will make a deal of some kind -- probably within the NASL -- before the trading deadline Sunday, Madison Square Garden Chairman Sonny Werblin said yesterday.
"We've been trying for the last week, to get a player or players," Werblin said. "We've been looking all over the world and I really mean all over the world. We thought we had a deal with a Dutch player and that fell through. But we want to make a deal. We're certainly not giving up on this season."
Coming off three straight losses on the West Coast, the Dips (8-12 and in last place in the National Conference East) conclude their four-game road trip Saturday afternoon in New England against the Tea Men, the hottest team in the league the last month.
Werblin said there are three players the Dips are seeking to acquire, all midfielders. One is Tampa Bay's Peter Baralic, reportedly unhappy with the Rowdies and available.
Another is Kevin Hector, who played a key role in Vancouver's 1979 Soccer Bowl victory. Hector is currently in England on leave from the team, but is also available. The third player is Bobby McDonald, a former teammate of Alan Gren at Coventry in the English League. Dip Coach Gordon Bradley had tried to purchase McDonald, 23, during the offseason.
Earlier this week, the Dips tried to make a deal for Atlanta forward Jeff Bourne, one of the league's top goal scorers the last three seasons, but a malcontent on the struggling Atlanta team.
The deal fell through because the Dips wanted Bourne for cash and the Chiefs wanted at least two players. The Diplomats have lots of money but few healthy players.
Werblin also said yesterday that once again he plans to urge Bradley to hire an assistant coach "fluent in languages other than English" when the two men sit down to talk personnel Saturday.
"I've been pushing Gordon to try and find someone to help him all season," Werblin said. "He hasn't found anyone. I think if he could find someone who can communicate with the players whose native lauguage isn't English, it would help pull the team together quite a bit."
Although Johan Cruyff speaks fluent English, Werblin said that Cruyff's strained relationship with Bradley throughout the season was one of the reasons he wishes to add a second assistant coach (Joe Mallett is Bradley's assistant now) to the team.
"Would I like to see a coach hired who has a rapport with Cruyff?" Werblin responded to a question. "Certainly. It's a sure thing we couldn't find one who would have less rapport with him."
Werblin said that he has tried to mediate the Bradley-Cruyff dispute on several occasions. "I thought we had it licked once but it lasted one game," he said.
Cruyff, one of several injured Diplomats, will not be in New England. Bradley should have goalie Bill Irwin, out the last two games with a shoulder injury, available; however, Dragan Radovich pleased Bradley as Irwin's replacement in Los Angeles and San Diego. Defender Nick Mijatovic reinjured a left hamstring muscle in Wednesday's 2-0 loss in San Diego and is questionable for New England.
"It's really bad," said Bradley after the San Diego loss."Not only did we lose but the results of the other league games (Rochester downed Portland, 2-0, to move into third place) were also bad for us."