Team America came home to Washington yesterday with a formal announcement that 16 players have been named to its roster and a promise to do all it can to make the United States respectable in international soccer competition.
"We're going to show the rest of the world that America can play the world's game as well, if not better, than the rest of the world," said Robert Lifton, the major investor in the team, which will be the Washington franchise in the North American Soccer League while training for international competition as the U.S. national team.
After a two-week training camp in Tampa, Fla., Coach Alkis Panagoulias told a Washington news conference yesterday he has named the following players to the roster: goalkeepers Paul Hammond of the Seattle Sounders and Arnie Mausser of the Tampa Bay Rowdies; defenders Jeff Durgan of the New York Cosmos, Alan Merrick of the Toronto Blizzard, Dan Canter and Bruce Savage of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Hayden Knight of the Montreal Manic; midfielders Perry Van Der Beck of Tampa Bay, Rob Olson of the American Soccer League's Georgia Generals, Sonny Askew of Toronto, Rudy Glenn of the Chicago Sting, Vidal Fernandez of the San Diego Sockers and Rick Davis of New York, and forwards Tony Crescitelli of the Golden Bay Earthquakes, Pedro DeBrito of Tampa Bay and Hernan (Chico) Borja of New York.
Two of the players, Askew and Crescitelli, formerly played for the defunct Washington Diplomats and one, Olson, is a product of the Northern Virginia youth soccer leagues and played at Fairfax County's Robinson High School and the College of William and Mary.
All players attended yesterday's press conference except Davis, who was said to be having contractual problems with the Cosmos. Beau Rogers, Team America's general manager, said the problems were routine and that he expected Davis to join the team soon.
But Tom Werblin, the general manager of the Cosmos, said Davis was still deciding whether to join Team America. Werblin said that there was nothing in Davis' contract with the Cosmos to prevent him from doing so.
Panagoulias said the players will get about two weeks off to relocate in Washington, but the team will reconvene here around March 10 to begin rigorous two-a-day practice sessions in preparation for an exhibition tour of Central and South America beginning around March 25.
"We would like to have as many international games as possible for this team," said Panagoulias, a naturalized American who coached the Greek national soccer team from 1973 to 1981.
"What we need are some early victories so we can develop our self-confidence. We are determined to play good soccer and to represent this nation well in this great sport. We must develop a national spirit for international competition."