SOCCER SUNDAY / LOCAL SCENE / Diffley IsThriving, But Busy

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On days you feel busy, consider the life of John Diffley:

soccer player, assistant coach, and now - Dad.

Diffley, who splits nearly every weekday coaching at St. John's and training

and captaining the A-League's Staten Island Vipers (the area's best pro soccer

team), recently became a father for the first time. Wife Marcia gave birth to

Jacqueline Rose on Aug. 30.

"It's been a lot harder on my wife than me," said Diffley, a 32-year-old

resident of Flushing. "I try to keep a balance."

Balance means not accompanying the Vipers on a road trip to Boston when his

wife was due to go into labor. Balance means making sure the practice schedules

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of the Red Storm (he is a full-time member of the staff) and the Vipers (for

whom he is a defensive midfielder) don't conflict. Balance means finding the

time to rehabilitate a right knee injury that has kept him off the field

recently.

The Vipers, seeded third in the A-League's eight-team playoffs, finished the

regular season 19-9 for 82 points. They took two of three from their rival, the

Long Island Rough Riders, and beat the MetroStars, 3-2, in the U.S. Open Cup.

The Vipers' first-round playoff match was at "home" against the Richmond

Kickers last night at Mitchel Field in Uniondale. The Rough Riders played the

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Pittsburgh Riverhounds to complete the doubleheader.

"I want to get back on the field and contribute," said Diffley, a former member

of MLS franchises in Kansas City and Tampa Bay, and the U.S. National Team.

Still, Diffley knows his future is in coaching. St. John's coach Dave Masur

said: "We share the responsibilites of the whole team. He's done a lot of

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recruiting and educated all of us on fitness. He'll make a great head coach

some day."

St. John's Carlo Acquista said: "He doesn't just tell us, he shows us."

Diffley said the hardest part is "sitting in traffic on the way from St. John's

to Staten Island." He's experienced a lot in his soccer career, including

stints in places from New Jersey to Holland.

"Still," he said, "nothing I've seen or done can compare to seeing my little

girl being born."

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