Dallas may be the home of America's team in football, but Washington will be the home of its team in soccer.
The United States Soccer Federation, in conjunction with the North American Soccer League, today announced the formation of Team America, which will compete in 30 NASL games this season as well as represent the U.S. in international competition.
Werner Fricker, executive vice president of the USSF, also announced that the United States was making a formal bid to host the 1986 World Cup.
"It is time now that American players have a showcase of our finest players," said Cosmos goalie David Brcic, speaking for the NASL Players Association. "We have our own stars. We can do it on our own."
T. Beauclerc Rogers IV, general manager of the new team, said he expected to sign a multiyear lease, by the end of the week, with the D.C. Armory Board for the use of RFK Stadium. This will be Washington's fifth professional soccer team, four of which folded for economic reasons. That, Rogers said, "has to hurt, but the Team America concept will erase all those memories."
Rogers, former co-owner and general manager of the Tampa Bay Rowdies and former general manager of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, said training camp will begin Feb. 1 at the University of Tampa. He said there was a possibility of a European and Caribbean exhibition tour before the NASL season begins April 27. Team America is expected to play 50 to 60 games a year.
Although no coach has been selected, Fricker said, the list of candidates had been narrowed to 20. According to sources, among those being considered are former Cosmos coach Eddie Firmani, former Tampa Bay coach Gordon Jago, former Dutch national coach Rinus Michels and Eckhart Krautzhun of West Germany.
According to the agreement between the USSF and the NASL, each of the league's franchises will be required to release three of its U.S. players to Team America, though no more than 18 members of the team will come from the NASL.
Officials expect to invite about 40 players to camp, then cut the squad to 20 for the regular season. Players have no obligation to accept the invitation or to play for the team.
The announced investors in Team American are Robert K. Lifton of New York City, principal managing investor, a lawyer and real estate executive; his partner, Howard Weingrow, former treasurer of the Democratic National Committee; Mike Curb, former lieutenant governor of California and now chairman of the Republican national finance committee, and Warner Hodgdon of Los Angeles, a real estate developer and auto racing track owner.
NASL President Howard Samuels has said it will cost $3.5 million to operate the team for a year and Rogers thinks average attendance of 20,000 to 25,000 is "do-able." Lifton said, "We've committed money in the seven-figure range."