FROM THE reverberations of the garbage cans in the alley and the howls of rage and glee it is clear the brats are playing soccer again.
"God Teddy, you cheated . . . you're just a cheater . . . you were so far offsides . . . you are a big . . . fat . . . liar, a Liiiiiaar."
Dissolving howls. The sound of a soccer ball hitting an automatic garage door, a car's panel, then ramming a garbage can goalpost. The silence, it's gone under a car and one of them is at this moment rubbing a long steak of axle grease across the back of an excelent sweater.
The asphait cobbles wreck their shoes. A car ran over a new soccer ball in its first moments of life, and they demanded that it be fixed right away. The split looked like a terrible, mortal wound. It was patched up with glue and reserve for the day the Washington Diplomats (everyone's heroes) would sign autographs on it. But that day they forgot it, and the soccer ball sits like a terminal patient, sad and useless and too new. . .
More then 25,000 little kidds in the Washington area now play soccer. They play with fury and complain bitterly about the arrival of darkness.
They have soccer leagues that schedule games all fall, every weekend; then come the alley games, and after that, the spring season. They hated the Bicentennial because so many good soccer fields on the Mall were covered with really dumb exhibits.
It started in the suburbs, where soccer leagues ring the District in a millitary fashion, and it's squeezing inward into the city, where this year they're trying to start a league on Capitol Hill because there are simply too many city kids who want to play for the nearest league, the Alexandria Soccer Assn., to handle.
In the league games, down the field they charge like a flapping, hairy wave. Between goal thrusts, thumbs sneak into mouths. Tears are shed at the final whistle of almost every contest.
At the end of the quarter the Kool Aid seeps into the crushed grass and the fumbling parents who ferried all the soccer kids, wrecked their weekends, bought ice cream for 11 and finally dragged themselves home, hoarse or a little drunk, are told, "Daddy, how could you be so dumb ?"
Kid soccer in the city is like a school cold or office flu - catching. It's going to turn into something truly montrous one of these years, like a Little League or an item in the District budget. But for now, for the next season or two with the Brazilians, the Cougars the Tigers, the Panthers, the Bullets, it's something a bit disorganized and comfortable.
Disorganization is not the way of progress, says Bryan Cassidy, a 45-year-old Dubliner who has lived on Capitol Hill for 15 years and whom some credit with the denting of innumerable alley garbage cans and others credit with getting soccer going on Capitol Hill.
Cassidy, whose normal outfit is a frosty beard and a warm-up suit, wants a city-wide league, like the big suburban leagues that have been established over the past eight years in Montogomery County, Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Fairfax, Potomac and Taloma Park.
It would be, he hopes, the first successful junior soccer league in the city of Washington, and it would have in it a great many more black children than the surburban leagues. Getting city kids into soccer is not problem in upper-income groups, but to attract more low-income children takes financial support, and soccer scholarships are now available.
It's ironic that finances should enter the kid soccer picture at all, because alongside American football, where a complete uniform can cost $90 to $120, soccer players get by with a pair of cleats, gym shorts and a T-shirt.
The whole playing uniform, including team shirt, should come to about $20. In fact, one of the major expenses of the young soccer player in this area is the $15 league registration fee. This and uniform costs can be cut by scholarship aid in cases of need.
"Back in 1971," said cassidy, "there were four or five kids on Capitol Hill playing soccer - all of them on Alexandria teams." Then, he said, the mania began to spread, partly via his own two boys, and in the fall of 73 a team of 6 to 8-year-olds called the Brazillians was formed.
"It just happened to consist mostly of Capitol Hill Kids," said Cassidy, "and since then we've grown to a point where we want to have our own league."
The guest sponsorship of the Alexandria Soccer Assn., which some 200 Capitol Hill kids on 11 teams have enjoyed for several seasons, became downright embarrassing last spring. The finals of the 8-10-year-old division at Alexandria saw two Capitol Hill teams, the Charges and the Cougars, fighting it out.
"The people in Alexandria began to wonder just who we were," Cassidy said. And when the Cougars came close to winning their division again last fall, still wearing the blue and white shirts of the A.S.A., it reinforced Cassidy's already-acted-upon position that there was enough talent and enthusiasm to warrant a District program.
Cassidy, who is an architect, likes no small designs. He sees soccer as part of the solution to steadily rising school sport costs and a possible alternative to American football in public school sport programs here. Many soccer-infected families carrying the idea a bit further with a bumper sticker that reads "Soccer - the REAL football."
"I'll tell you why soccer has grown so fast here," he said. "It provides a viable alternative to the heavy contact sport of footbal1. It's an intelligent way to exercise without being brutal about it. Then it's not dependent on size and weight - a small quick player can make a great success at it and this opens up all sorts of possibilities. And of course the third reason is it's an extremely inexpensive sport to belong to."
The usual league formats are three age groups, 6-8-year-olds, 8-10s and 10-12s.
"We have a lot of trouble holding on to kids after they are 14," Cassidy said. But this year, the main problem is to find enough fields.
He believes the National Park Service should pay more attention to a city soccer program that are sponsored by agencies and offices whose workers live mainly in the surburbs.
Because of the shortage of coaches, the first Capitol Hill league will be the 6-8-year-olds, the real screamers. In the past, their games have been by far the sportiest for spectators because of the completely missed kicks, the mystified goalies, the defensewomen who are talking instead of defending.
It's the age before they start taking it out on the garbarge cans and before they know that their parents are so dumb.