An agreement in principle has been reached for Team America to be organized as the official U.S. soccer team and play a full schedule in Washington this season with home games at RFK Stadium, the chief executive officer of the North American Soccer League said yesterday.
"Most of the things have been settled, but the final papers have not been signed yet," said Howard Samuels, at NASL New York headquarters. "There is agreement in principle, but until we have the final papers signed we don't have Team America."
If Team America does play at RFK Stadium--no lease has been signed yet--it will mark the city's fifth professional soccer team.
Samuels does not expect Team America to make a profit, but said he hopes losses can be offset by sponsorship arrangements. Major American corporations would put up money in exchange for the right to use the team logo in promotional activities.
To be made up entirely of American citizens, Team America would represent the United States in international soccer matches, the World Cup and possibly the Olympics. Last weekend, the United States Soccer Federation gave its conditional approval for the team.
Samuels said Team America's participation in the NASL would have two purposes: to train for international competition and to compete as a full-fledged member of the league.
"It takes an enormous time for players to play together to develop a team," Samuels said. "One of the reasons we haven't done well (in international soccer competition) is we have not had sufficient training for the team. We want this team to do what (the U.S. Olympic) hockey team did.
"I want to see us win the Olympics and then shock the world in what is the world's biggest sport by winning the World Cup." Olympic competition would depend on discussed rules changes that would allow professionals to compete in some cases.
Samuels said he expects most of the players on Team America to be culled from current NASL teams and from the indoor soccer league. "I have asked all the coaches to nominate players," he said.
Tentative plans are for about 40 players to be invited to try out for Team America, which hopes to begin training in about three weeks in Tampa. For regular-season play, the squad will be cut to 20.
Meetings are scheduled throughout the weekend with investors and others connected with Team America, and there will be dicussions about naming a coach.
Samuels said it will cost $3.5 million to operate Team America for one year. Although he does not expect the gate to come close to covering that, he said he hopes that international soccer matches in the offseason might make money.
The four professional soccer teams to have folded in Washington were the Whips, the Darts and two versions of the Diplomats.