Veee Says His Seven Years With Sockers Have Gone Down the Drain

Times Staff Writer

If Las Vegas American star Juli Veee had his way, he would play in tonight's Major Indoor Soccer League game at the Sports Arena against the Sockers.

Veee will not play in the 7:35 game, which is sold out, because he is suffering from a pulled hamstring.

"The only reason I would like to play so desperately is because it would be fun to have the crowd boo me," Veee said.

Veee has not forgotten the Feb. 20 game at San Diego when he was booed each time he touched the ball in the fourth quarter after head-butting the Sockers' Steve Zungul from behind.

The crowd's reaction signified a parting between Veee and the fans who supported him for seven years as a member of the Sockers.

Socker Owner Bob Bell said the crowd's response "took a big load off my shoulders." Until that night, Bell had received numerous letters encouraging him to reacquire Veee from Las Vegas.

Veee also had hinted he wanted to return, but not since Feb. 20.

"If I spent seven seasons there and one incident turned the fans like that, what was the point of me playing there?" Veee asked. "If they still feel that way, I would just as soon play in Chicago or Kansas City or anywhere but San Diego. It's like having seven seasons down the drain. What do I care?"

Game films show that Zungul shoved Veee before the Las Vegas forward head-butted Zungul to the ground.

"It hurt him, I won't deny that," Veee said. "But he made it look uglier than it was. I was thinking of the Oscar nominations. He would've gotten one."

Said Zungul: "It was not an Oscar performance. I made some guys feel my head, and there was a big bump there. I told Juli I could forgive him for doing it one time. If he still wants to be that way, I can be an idiot, too. I'd just as soon forget about it."

Veee certainly has not forgotten the situation. He said he originally became upset early in the fourth quarter on a play involving Socker goalkeeper Jim Gorsek and American defender Martin Donnelly.

On the play in question, Gorsek and Donnelly arrived at the ball simultaneously. Donnelly ended on top of Gorsek and started shoving him. Donnelly was given a two-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Veee said Gorsek tried to hurt Donnelly, also a former Socker, by tripping him.

"Jim Gorsek did well for us while I was with the Sockers," Veee said. "But if it wasn't for the older players, Gorsek would have been out shoveling manure somewhere. If (Socker defender) Kevin Crow wouldn't have stopped me, I would've hit Gorsek. Things would've been even uglier. I'm just happy I didn't hit guys I played with--Brian Quinn, Jean Willrich or Kevin Crow. But I would've hit them anyway that night."

Veee said the fans were justified in booing him at the moment he decked Zungul. He just could not understand why they booed him the remainder of the game.

"If I had been in a San Diego uniform, they would've asked for more blood," Veee said. "They used to love Martin Donnelly and I when we got all those penalties in San Diego. Maybe we shouldn't get too attached to people. Maybe everything in San Diego was a figment of my imagination. I think now that there may not have been too much between the fans and I.

"I did give a lot to San Diego. We won three championships there. I could've gotten more money elsewhere. I stayed for the fans. When this happens, you wonder if it was worth it all. Now, I would have to say it was not worth it."

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