U.S. World Cup team cuts ex-Terps star Armstrong

May 11, 1994|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,Sun Staff Writer

Maryland native Desmond Armstrong was one of four players cut from the U.S. National soccer team yesterday as the Americans trimmed their roster in preparation for World Cup competition, which is nearly a month away.

Armstrong, 29, from Columbia, was one of two defenders released along with Jeff Agoos, 26. Midfielders Janusz Michallik, 28, and Brian Quinn also were cut as the roster was reduced to 25. Three more players must be cut before the final roster is set June 3.

"It was a surprise," the former University of Maryland standout said last night. "I thought my play was pretty strong considering the number of positions I was in. But I'm not bitter, and there is no malice. Not one negative thing to say."

Armstrong was one of the team's versatile players. During the last year, he played six positions. The biggest challenge may have come last April when Armstrong was moved from left back to sweeper for 10 months while Marcelo Balboa was out with a knee injury. Armstrong returned to left back when Balboa rejoined the team Feb. 13.

"I thought the marking back and sweeper were my best positions," Armstrong said. "Of course there were some down moments while I was learning the position and other people were becoming comfortable with me."

U.S. coach Bora Milutinovic declined to be specific about roster moves. "I have equal sentiment for all my players," Milutinovic said. "It is never easy for a player when you spend so much of your life playing a sport. We must stay focused, though, and competitive at all times. It is important to have good team spirit."

Armstrong said he expects to return to Columbia next week and begin promoting soccer camps he runs in Maryland and surrounding states. He said he has been contacted by ESPN and ABC and expects an audition as an analyst for the World Cup Games.

Armstrong made his debut for the national team in June 1987, becoming the first African American to play for the club. He played in 83 games. Armstrong also started for the 1990 U.S. World Cup team and was a member of the 1988 U.S. Olympic team.

He emphasized last night that his career may not be over.

"Being a Christian, I know that when one door closes, another one opens," Armstrong said. "I'm only 29, and one of the most experienced players in the country," he said. "I think I can play for some team when the new professional league here begins."

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