AWOL Toros' MVP benched

John Crittenden
Date Published: 
Miami News

Second-leading scorer in the North American Soccer League last season and winner of the league's most valuable player award, Warren Archibald has not made a goal or an assist during the Miami Toros' first four games.

He's not scheduled to start tomorrow night against Washington at the Orange Bowl.

Excused from Monday's practice to visit his sick fiancee in Trinidad, Archibald was scheduled to return to Miami for a practice yesterday. He didn't show.

"He's not here training, how can I start him?" asked Toros coach John Young. "You get yourself in an impossible situation when a player shows up on the day of the game and expects you to use him."

Archibald might not have been a starter against Washington even if he had attended both of this week's practices.

He injured a knee in Miami's opening game at St. Louis—on May 4—"and he has to convince me that he is ready to play 100 per cent before he's going to start," Young said after yesterday's practice.

"Some players can play with injuries while others won't," said Young. "I think Archie is a bit afraid of it (the injury). The only way that he can prove to me that he is 100 per cent is by scoring goals and by taking people on. I can't recall a single occasion he took an opponent on one-to-one against Toronto on May 10. He just laid the ball off all the time."

"I want to be convinced the knee is right," said Young. "I wasn't convinced he could go 90 minutes against Vancouver."

Archibald played the game's last 15 minutes last week as a sub against Vancouver.

"His concern about his fiancee's illness may be part of the problem," said Young. "But he hasn't been the old Archie."

The Toros have won three out of four matches despite Archibald's problems. "We've changed things a bit without him," said Young. "Archibald didn't have any defensive responsibility. He didn't defend at all. He just couldn't seem to learn to play defense. Now we have no on in there without defensive responsibility. There is only one kind of game Archibald can play — striker. He's an out-and-out striker, and the best there is. Providing that he is doing the striking to the best of his ability, he's an asset to any team. A fully fit Archie is an asset. But if he's not doing it well, we have to think again."

What does Archibald say about the condition of his knee?

"He says he feels much better," replied Young. "But what does that tell us? Of course, since last Friday he has been gone — we haven't seen him."

Archibald didn't start last week against Vancouver because Young didn't think he could go the whole game. "If he starts and he's not fit, you have to take him out, and then you've used one of you substitutions," said the coach.

When Archibald did play last week "he kept them honest," said Young, certainly a mild endorsement. "But it takes a while to warm up," he added. "You think about coming on the field and scoring the winning goal, but in reality that doesn't happen often.

"We are aware of what Archie can do," said Young. "We hope he draws two defenders when he's in there and that can change the game. But when he's in there, others are doing donkey work that you don't ever hear of.

"But this is not a one-man team," said Young. "This is a team that doesn't run on Archibald or any other one player. We can win without him — we have already done it, against New York and Vancouver."

As for tomorrow, Young said he is going to play the players who practiced this week. The game is certainly becoming Americanized — Young is lifting quotes from Darrell Royal. "We're going to dance with the people that brung us," he said.