Robert Lifton, the principal owner of Team America, emerged from a 90-minute meeting with NASL President Howard Samuels yesterday and said he was hopeful an arrangement could be worked out that would keep him from withdrawing his support from the team.
"People are looking at Team America with a new affinity," said Lifton. "For the first time in a long time, people are looking at the team and saying, 'How can I make it happen?' instead of, 'How can I make it not happen?' "
Lifton sent a letter to the other 11 NASL owners last week, offering to return his players to their original clubs in exchange for the right to pick any U.S. players for the team next year. Unless the owners approved Lifton's plan, he said he would withdraw his support from Team America.
Lifton said yesterday that the owners "appear generally agreeable" to the plan, and that Samuels will work this week to try to reduce the proposal to a document that might be approved by all the teams.
In a statement released by the league, Samuels said that the NASL is working on a plan for the return of Team America players to their original clubs for the upcoming indoor season, under the provision that they be made available during the winter for possible tours with either Team America or the national team.
Samuels will address the U.S. Soccer Federation at its annual board meeting later this week in St. Louis, in an attempt to get the USSF to increase its support of Team America.