The Major Indoor Soccer League is not expected to provide players for Team America in "the foreseeable future," and therefore owner Robert Lifton will ask other North American Soccer League teams for players to fill out the team's roster, Lifton said yesterday.
Speaking at a press conference at the Capitol Hill Hyatt Regency, Lifton said a three-hour meeting Monday between representatives of the NASL, the MISL, the players' association and Team America failed to produce a solid agreement for lending MISL players to Team America.
"It is unfortunate, because we left six spots open on our roster for MISL players," Lifton said. "But we have to realize the possibility that MISL players will not be made available for Team America, at least not in the foreseeable future."
Team America, which serves as a development squad for the national team, has only 17 players on its roster as it prepares for its home opener, against Tulsa, Sunday at RFK Stadium. Those 17 include two players on loan to Team America and one player, defender Hayden Knight, who is out with a broken foot. Team America Coach Alkis Panagoulias has said he would like at least a 20-man roster.
"There are some very good players in the MISL who could help Team America," Panagoulias said. "Players like New York's Ringo Cantillo, San Diego's Vidal Fernandez and Ty Keough and St. Louis' Tony Bellinger; players with experience who have played for the national team before."
Said Lifton: "It is inherent upon the other NASL teams to make up for the shortfall of players from the MISL. Having made the commitment to Team America, it is up to the other teams to make up the difference."
Monday's meeting did reduce the differences between the NASL and the MISL to three main points:
The MISL has asked that players be allowed to play in both leagues, competing outdoors in the NASL during the summer and indoors in the MISL during the winter. But the NASL has 12-month player contracts, and Lifton called this point "the most difficult to resolve."
MISL Commissioner Earl Foreman asked that indoor players be placed directly onto Team America's roster, instead of having to try out. But Lifton seems to feel this point is resolved. "I spoke with Earl and he realizes this is a difficult position to put the coach and Team America in," Lifton said.
Foreman asked that MISL teams be paid a $5,000 transfer fee, in addition to the standard compensation for lending players to Team America. As a compromise, the MISL has proposed that its teams have the option of the $5,000 fee or entrance into the profit-sharing agreement NASL clubs have with Team America. The NASL has taken this proposal back to its directors for consideration.
In New York, NASL President Howard Samuels said: "I am committed to working out a deal with the MISL. Bob (Lifton) is reacting as he should, and he has every right to be upset at my and Earl's inability to work this thing out. But I am still confident and I hope Earl is too."
Foreman, reached at his office in Potomac, Md., said that a draft of the three-point proposal was received at MISL headquarters in Philadelphia late yesterday. He promised to place the proposal immediately before his board of directors.
"It would seem to me that some definite decision should be reached certainly in less than a month," said Foreman.
Samuels said that, in the meantime, he would approach the other NASL teams about lending players to Team America. Samuels also said that San Diego, an NASL club currently competing in the MISL playoffs, would send two players, possibly strikers Ade Coker and Julie Veee, in mid-May. But Samuels warned that the NASL's reserve of Americans was already being strained.
"My owners have helped Team America out greatly," said Samuels. "But how much more can I ask my people to sacrifice?"
Team America defeated a college select team, 2-0, yesterday in a scrimmage at RFK Stadium. Team America took a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute on an "own" goal and made it 2-0 at 42 minutes when forward Tony Crescitelli scored on a pass from Alan Merrick.