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NOT SO RESERVED . . . KAZ Deyna, Now a Reserve for the Sockers, Isn't Quiet Anymore: He Just Wonders What's Going On

February 14, 1986|MARC APPLEMAN | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Listen to the words and name the speaker.

"What the hell is going on?" the man was saying. "I usually play it cool and keep it inside. But it's bad to keep it inside. I'm mad. It makes me angry and disappointed when I don't play.

"And why didn't the coach come to me and explain? I like fair people and fair stuff. This is not fair. If you fight, fight face to face. Don't knife me in the back."

Obviously, this was a brash and outspoken individual, willing--and probably accustomed--to being in a controversial spotlight. Probably someone like Kurt Bevacqua.



This was the Sockers' Kaz Deyna, who had remained quietly on the fringes as assorted controversies swirled around the organization and its players. This was a man who involved himself in the game, and little else.

However, he is no longer quite so involved in the games. For the first time since he was 8 years old and living in Poland, Deyna is not a regular on his team. Actually, this may be the first time in his career he is not a star on his team.

This is an athlete who was player of the year three times in his native Poland, and a star when Poland won the gold medal in the 1972 Olympic Games. After playing with Manchester City in the English First Division, he moved to the United States and has played an integral role during the Sockers' four consecutive indoor championships.

However, in 1985-86, Deyna, has played sparingly in only 19 games and has just one goal and five assists. He has been left behind on a number of trips, and occasionally is left off the active roster for home games.

"I'm feeling sick inside when I come and sit in the stands," Deyna said. "I can't believe it. It is very difficult. My mind still plays while I watch."

Even when he has had a chance to play, Deyna does not think he has been given an opportunity to become a part of the up-tempo Socker offense.

"I play maybe one minute a quarter," Deyna said. "I'm only on the field for maybe four or five minutes in the whole game. It's not easy."

The lack of playing time influenced Deyna's decision to step down as the team's captain after more than four years of service. When Deyna stepped down as captain, Jean Willrich was offered the post. Willrich turned it down, and Steve Zungul served as captain until he was sold to the Tacoma Stars Feb. 3. A permanent successor to Zungul has yet to be selected.

"A captain has to play every game," Deyna said. "If I don't play every game, it is difficult to be captain. One day, (in the early part of January) before a game I wasn't playing, I talked to the players in the locker room.

"I said, 'Thank you for almost five years. I tried my best. It is difficult for me to be captain.' "

It also has been very difficult for a veteran star like Deyna to handle such an unexpected demotion.

He was a key member of last year's team and was playing regular shifts during the first few games this season.

Deyna had 30 goals and 21 assists in the regular season last year and added eight goals and five assists in 13 playoff games. He scored his lone goal of the season in the Sockers' opening game in Baltimore this season.

When the team struggled and got off to a 7-6 start, Sockers Coach Ron Newman started using younger and quicker players.

"The politics is very bad," Deyna said. "I'm feeling good. I want to play. The coach says I'll give you a rest. He plays 19- and 20-year-olds. There is no comparison between them and me. Coach doesn't understand too much. He likes players who run. Those aren't the type of soccer players who make you win. We win because we have players with skill and vision. Quickness is in the head and the mind.

"Running is important in the 100-yard dash in the Olympic Games, but that is not soccer. Experts have always called me 'Professor' and 'General.' "

And the "Magic One."

"I've always sung Kazie's praises," Newman said. "If I had to pick an all-star team of players I've coached, Kazie would be on it. But I don't have the room for him at the moment. With Jean (Willrich), Branko (Segota), Hugo (Perez) and Brian (Quinn) in the midfield, I have four players who are more productive than Kazie. And it's more beneficial to have younger players play in bit spots.

"Kazie had his opportunity early in the year when Brian (Quinn) was injured, but he wasn't productive. He has never seemed to recover since the good start he had early last season. Age has caught up with him."

At 38, Deyna is the second oldest player in the MISL. Midfielder Jorgen Kristensen of the Wichita Wings is 39.

Deyna believes his age was responsible for his contract hassles during the off-season. Now, he says his new contract is the cause of what he terms "bad politics." After his three-year contract expired last November, it took seven months before he finally agreed to a new contract for fewer up-front dollars and more bonuses.

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