Maryland Bays forward Phillip Gyau will play tonight against the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the American Soccer League playoffs after Bays owner John Liparini threatened to seek an injunction to stop the U.S. national team from requiring him to play for them in East Rutherford, N.J.
Gyau, who was named the league's most valuable player last week, is expected to start tonight at 7 in game 2 of the semifinal series at Cedar Lane Park in Columbia, Md.
He missed the Bays' 2-1 overtime victory Friday in the first game of the home-and-home series in Tampa. Gyau (12 goals, six assists) was playing in the U.S. national team's 1-0 loss to Brazilian club Flamengo at Giants Stadium in the Marlboro Cup of New York, which continues today.
Serving a one-game suspension for accumulating four yellow cards during the ASL's regular season, Gyau had to sit out the first semifinal ASL match.
Although Gyau wanted to return for today's ASL game, a U.S. Soccer Federation spokesman indicated Thursday that the federation probably would not allow Gyau to skip today's consolation match against Sporting Lisbon of Portugal.
Liparini's attorney was preparing to seek an injunction Friday when the federation permitted Gyau to rejoin the Bays (16-5).
"It's not common for a player to leave, but his professional team has a playoff match and we were able to accommodate their request," federation official Sunil Gulati said.
Unlike most of the U.S. players, Gyau is not bound by a federation contract.
U.S. midfielder Eric Eichmann, a member of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, is under contract and will miss today's semifinal game against the Albany Capitals. Three members of the Western Soccer League's San Francisco Bay Blackhawks also are restricted by contracts with the federation.
Gyau, a quick attacker from Gwynn Park High School and Howard University, was invited to the national team last month and played against an East German select team July 28 in Milwaukee.
"I was all for John," ASL Commissioner David Prouty said. "Enough is enough. Our teams had no problem with our players going over to the World Cup and we expect the same consideration. The fans deserve the best."
If the Rowdies (10-11) win tonight, a 30-minute tiebreaking match will follow to determine who advances to the championship series, which begins Saturday.