While his teammates attempted to wrestle first place in the MSL’s Western Division from the Tacoma Stars Thursday night, the Sockers’ Branko Segota sat.
But he won’t be sitting for long. Segota said if his situation with the team does not improve, he will leave for Europe, or for another Major Soccer League team when his contract expires after this season.
“I’ve been thinking about (playing outdoor in Europe),” said Segota, 29. “I still have two or three more good years to play. I’m not necessarily looking to make the big money over there, but if I can negotiate something over the summer, I’ll probably do it. Otherwise, I’ll go somewhere where I’ll get treated right, where I’ll get treated like a professional.”
Segota, along with St. Louis’ Preki and Dallas’ Tatu, is considered one of few franchise players in the league. He has been playing in the MSL since its inaugural year in 1978-79 when he was 17. He is the MSL’s second all-time leader in goals (395), assists (332) and points (727).
In a little more than six seasons with the Sockers, Segota has become the team’s all-time scorer with 511 points (277 goals and 234 assists).
And he said he would like to add to those totals after this season, but says management does not want him to.
“I would like to stay in San Diego and finish my career here,” Segota said. “But the way things have been happening, they don’t want me here.”
Segota said his original four-year contract, signed in the summer of 1987, called for a salary of $270,000 this season. Instead he will earn $102,000, which is still $30,000 more than any other player in the league.
When Segota accepted the reduction, as well as others in each of the past two years, theclub, Segota said, made certain promises that were never kept.
He would not elaborate.
Asked what it would take on the Sockers’ part to re-sign him, Segota said, “I don’t really want to get into that.”
“The only thing I’m thinking about right now is I want to be happy. I want to play soccer and concentrate on playing soccer. I don’t need all this. I don’t need all this trouble.”
Now Segota is incurring the wrath of his teammates as they react to his unauthorized trip to Yugoslavia over the New Year’s holiday and his absence at four practices. Several players have suggested that maybe Segota doesn’t always put forth his best.
Segota has taken exception to that.
“It’s not their place to talk,” he said. “It’s their place to play soccer. And some of them still have a lot to prove in this league. They haven’t reached star status. They haven’t put up the numbers year in and year out.”