Sockers Reach Agreements With Five Players; Some to Take Pay Cut
Making do with what little the Major Indoor Soccer League salary cap allows, the Sockers have signed or secured agreements with five players who helped propel them to a seventh indoor championship last month.
Forward Zoran Karic and goalie Victor Nogueira have signed contracts, according to Socker Coach Ron Newman. Midfielder Waad Hirmez said he will sign today.
Newman said defenders George Fernandez and Kevin Crow have agreed to terms.
Under the salary cap, each MISL team is alloted $850,000 to pay 18 players and another $25,000 for two developmental players. That makes this time of year tricky, particularly for the Sockers, who have a number of players requesting raises coming off the championship season.
Hirmez said he took a salary cut to stay in San Diego.
“I am a little bit disappointed,” he said, “but I can understand because of the financial situation with the salary cap. I did it for the respect and love I have for the fans. I hope I never have to leave San Diego.”
And other veterans?
“I think if they stay in San Diego, I expect some of the veteran players will be taking pay cuts,” Hirmez said.
Socker President Ron Cady said: “When you have a championship team, it puts a lot of pressure on you to retain those players. It makes our situation very difficult to try to keep the team intact.”
So how will next season’s version of the Sockers look? Well, midfielders Brian Quinn and Branko Segota have guaranteed contracts, as does goalie Zoltan Toth, who missed more than half of last season after foot surgery for bunions.
Paul Dougherty, a third-year midfielder who was far less productive last season than the season before, is negotiating with other teams and may leave the Sockers for more money.
Midfielder Chris Chueden likely will not fit into the team’s plans next season and won’t be offered a contract.
Veterans Gus Mokalis, Ralf Wilhelms and Alan Willey, all with limited playing time last season, probably will not be Sockers next season unless Newman is unable to find suitable younger players to fill their roles. Steve Zungul, Newman said, isn’t expected to make a decision on retirement until just before the beginning of next season.
The Sockers selected two players from the roster of the defunct Lazers in Tuesday’s dispersal draft: midfielder Jim Gabarra (first round) and defender Thor Lee (second). Gabarra, who as a member of the U.S. national team would miss games if he made the Socker roster, scored 12 goals and had eight assists in 31 games with the Lazers last season. Lee, a developmental player, had 22 blocks. Of Gabarra, Coach Ron Newman said: “I usually get upset when he’s playing (against us) and I’m quite relieved when he’s not. Those are good signs. He knows the indoor game thoroughly.” . . . Newman said he has agreed to terms on a new contract and will sign this week.