Pro Soccer Returns

Leonard Shapiro
Date Published: 
Washington Post

Washington has been awarded a North American Soccer League franchise to field a team this summer in the newly expanded league of at least 15 teams.

Formal announcement of the city's third NASL franchise—the two-year-old Whips were dissolved after the 1968 season and the Darts left here after the 1971 campaign and moved to Miami—is expected to come at a press conference Monday at the Touchdown Club.

The team will be named the Washington Diplomats, and the new owners are hopeful they will be able to play their home games at RFK Stadium. The Whips averaged 7-8,000 at the D.C. Stadium. The Darts played at Catholic University and averaged 3,500 customers in their final year.

The new franchise has been awarded to Mike Finci, a Silver Spring insurance man, and Nick Mangeoni, owner of a Baltimore construction firm.

A team spokesman said last night he preferred to discuss "our entire operation at the press conference" and declined further comment other than "we have been awarded a franchise and it will be called the Washington Diplomats."

It has been learned that the new team has purchased the Baltimore Bays, owned by WTTG sportscaster Jim Karvellas. He had planned to have the Bays play as an independent team in Washington this year, but was involved in securing the new NASL franchise for Finci and Mangeoni, and the Bays will be formally disbanded.

The new team will be coached by Dennis Viollet, who coached the American Soccer League's Bays last season. The team most likely will be stocked with players from the league's college and expansion drafts later this month, in addition to former Bays.

Howard University coach Lincoln Phillips and former All Americans Keith Aqui and Alvin Henderson played for the Bays last year, and most likely will play for the Diplomats.