Darts Laugh At Stars

Don Dunn
Date Published: 
Cumberland Evening Times

WASHINGTON—The Darts, hosting at Catholic University the lowliest and yet most important team in the North American Soccer League, the St. Louis Stars, came away from the Sunday contest on the laughing side of a 7-1 farce. The seven-goal explosion was the top scoring performance by an NASL team this season, giving the winners a record of 8-3-3.

The Darts had ended a scoring slump last week with their 5-0 win over Hapoel Petah-Tikva of Israel, and kept the shooting luck alive with yesterday's game against the Stars, even though the American-laden Midwestern team put an end to the Darts shutout streak. Goalkeeper-coach Lincoln Phillips had blanked five consecutive opponents coming into yesterday, but that went off the boards in the 14th minute of action.

Center forward Jim Leeker, a 6-2, 200-pound alumnus of St. Louis University and a hometown native, broke out of the home team's defense and fired the ball past Phillips to tie the game with just less than 77 minutes remaining.

The goal brought the Darts back to their senses immediately if the first-place team had underestimated the visitors, who carried the weakest record in the league with three victories, ten defeats and a tie into the fray.

Even though the Stars are having troubles getting out of the NASL basement, they are the most important of the six teams in the circuit. Of the 16 players on the roster, 11 are American citizens, St. Louis-born at that. If soccer is to become a major sport in the United States, it will have to be on the talents of players from this nation, rather than the foreign-born standouts in the NASL since 1967.

To build fan-identification with the booters, the home team must really be a home team, rather than an outfit of visiting players who return to theri native countries after the season ends. The Stars may lose, but losers of that sort are the elements of a winning league.

Following the game's opening goal, by halfback Victor Gamaldo in the second minute of play, the Darts had taken on an extremely relaxed look. Leeker made the play more serious on the part of the eventual winners.

Washington's top showings of the day were Leroy DeLeon and Warren Archibald, former teammates with the New York Generals of the NASL and the Trinidad National team in the early rounds of World Cup play. DeLeon, the team's top scorer, fired in a hat trick of three goals, bringing his season total up to ten in the 14 contests thus far, and Archibald was responsible for a pair, playing what was his strongest match of the season on the CU field.

DeLeon's scores came in the 25th, 31st, and 62nd minutes, the hustling, speedy former halfback shooting seven times to come away with his three. Archibald finished with the same number of shots, but couldn't put one to the nets until the 52nd and 76th minutes, when they hardly mattered in the decision. Frank Donlavey put in the other goal, a penalty kick, in the 38th minute.
The seven-goal embarrassment of St. Louis gave the Darts 31 for the season, averaging slightly better than two per match, another top showing in the league for them. With the win and credit for three goals in the standings, the NASL newcomers now hold a lead of 17 points over Southern Division runnerup 5-6-4 Atlanta, 70-62, with Dallas following in the cellar on 5-7-3 and 57.

The Northern Division is topped by the Kansas City Stars, last season's champions, with a record of 5-6-4 and 60 points, followed by Rochester with 4-6-4 and 57, and St. Louis with 3-11-1 and 33 points.

If the Darts' offense made a farce out of yesterday's match, the defense didn't exactly take it easy, with center-halfback Willie Evans and fullback Roland Crispin leading the way to hold St. Louis to 15 shots in the 90 minutes, compared with the Darts and their 28 attempts.

The NASL mid-season all-star team was announced during the week, and Evans, Crispin and Phillips were placed on the listing of the top 18 players in the loop.

The top defensive, offensive, and won-lost-tied team in the NASL next Sunday will host Kansas City in a 4 p.m. match at Catholic University, with the trio of all-star defenders counted upon to give the backbone for a second home 4-1 win over the Spurs.

The only match of the three lost this year by Washington which came at the hands of another NASL team was 4-0 in Kansas City May 17.

Next week's meeting with the Spurs will be 'Camera Day', with fans allowed on the field between 3 and 3:30 p.m.