Thirty-nine soccer players, including local products Darryl Gee and Gary Etherington and former Washington Diplomats Sonny Askew and Tony Crescitelli, have been invited to attend the first training camp of Team America, it was announced yesterday by the North American Soccer League and the United States Soccer Federation.
The team, which will be based in Washington and serve as a national team-in-training, will open camp Feb. 1 at the University of Tampa. Team America will play a full 30-game NASL schedule beginning April 22.
All but three of the players are on NASL rosters. Etherington, 24, a midfielder, plays for New York of the Major Indoor Soccer League. He attended Mount Vernon High School and was the first high school player signed by the NASL.
Askew, a forward, and goalie Paul Hammond are free agents.
The first cut will be made Feb. 13, and the final 20-man roster will be announced Feb. 23 in Washington. After a short exhibition schedule, Team America will open its home season May 8 at RFK Stadium.
Players were chosen after each of the 11 NASL clubs were required to submit a list of possible candidates. The final selections were made by Manfred Schellscheidt, interim Team America coach, and NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam.
"I am pretty sure we got every American that can play the game in the NASL," said Schellscheidt, 42, also the U.S. Olympic and under-23 coach. "But saying these are the top players in the league is optimistic, because many of the best players are still foreign.
"But we have left behind the days of simply buying talent. The emphasis now must be on developing American talent."
Nine members of the Cosmos, the defending Soccer Bowl champions, were invited. Along with Gee, a 20-year-old defender who attended Oakland Mills High School in Columbia, Md., others invited were goalkeeper David Brcic; defenders Boris Bandov, Jeff Durgan and Erhardt Kapp; midfielders Ricky Davis and Angelo DiBernardo, and forwards Steve Moyers and Chico Borja.