General Manager Beau Rogers of Team America will meet today with North American Soccer League officials in New York to appeal the ejection of Jeff Durgan from Sunday's 2-1 victory over Fort Lauderdale.
Durgan, a defender, was ejected in the 35th minute after shoving Strikers' forward Branko Segota, and is subject to an undetermined fine and a five-day suspension, according to league rules. The ejection, if upheld, would cause Durgan to miss Friday's game against the Cosmos.
But Rogers was optimistic Team America's appeal would be upheld. "We believe strongly in what we're doing," said Rogers. "Jeff's actions were justified and I hope we can make our case stand up. The ejection wasn't correct. The penalty was way too severe for the infraction."
Team America, which had to file its appeal within 48 hours of Sunday's game, posted a $100 bond to the league yesterday. It will present its case before Comissioner Phil Woosnam, Executive Director Ted Howard and Harry Baldwin, the director of officials. Team America also must supply a videotape of the incident.
The NASL must decide within 48 hours of receiving the appeal. If the ejection is upheld, Durgan's suspension will be retroactive.
Although he has not seen a replay of the game, Howard said yesterday he doubted the ejection would be overturned.
Durgan, Team America's captain, rushed Segota after he appeared to kick Team America's Dan Canter, who was on the ground. Durgan, who has a team-high four yellow (caution) cards this season, was immediately given a red card by referee Dilvo DePlacido. As Durgan left the field, Team America Coach Alkis Panagoulias argued vehemently and was assessed a yellow card.
"(The ejection) was very unfair," said Panagoulias. "The referee was preoccupied with Jeff. I didn't say anything bad to him. I just told him not to kill the game, but he was looking at me as if he was absent from the game."
Durgan is a vital member of Team America's defense, which has allowed the fewest goals (nine) in the league. Against the Cosmos, Durgan would likely mark Giorgio Chinaglia, the NASL's all-time leading scorer.