The national soccer team of the People's Republic of China gets down to business tonight - a 7:30 o'clock game against the U.S. National Team at RFK Stadium - after a whirlwind 2 1/2 days of pregame festivities that included lunch with 4,300 midshipmen a look at the House and Senate in session, and a visit to the White House.
The soccer delegation is the sixth group of mainland Chinese sportsmen to tour the U.S. since "Ping Pong Diplomcy" began in 1971. Like the table tennis, martial arts, gymnastics, women's basketball and men's and women's volleyball teams that preceded them, they have an ambitious schedule for their 14-day, five-game U.S. visit, first leg of a trip that will take them to Jamaica and Mexico.
The entourage of 18 players and 10 officials, coaches and interpreters will be on the go throughout their stay in the U.S which centers around three games against the U.S! National Team, tonight. Oct. 10 at Atlanta and Oct. 16 at San Francisco, plus contests against The Cosmos at East Rutherford. N.J. Saturday and the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Tampa on Oct. 13.
In addition to practice, games and dinics on trainingmethods and sports medicine, the Chinese will visit such American institutions as Disney World. Coca-Cola headquarters. Muir Woods redwood forest, a family ranch and the Golden Gate Bridge.
They will tour the United Nations, lunch at the World Trade Center, attend a Brosdway play, scrimmage the Emory University varsity> and ride in paddle, glass pottom, and ferry boats, acsamole of participant and spectator sports. American style is also planned by their husts - the Chinese will go bowling in Athanta and attend the Orcgon State at California college football game on Oct. 15 in Berkeley, both new experiences for all of them.
Having [WORD ILLEGIBLE] at Dulles Airport Monday night from Peking via Tokyo and Seattle, they get up bright and earnly the next morning to visit the U.S. Naval Academy, ("If it's Tuesday, this must be Annapohs.") There they pratiged the be first time on Astroturh in preparetion for their first game on [WORD ILLEGIBLE] turf Saturday at the New Jersey [WORD ILLEGIBLE]
Following lunch with 30 students of Chinese and the soccer team at the Academy, they returned to Washington and went to Capitol Hill, where four Congressmen gave them an crientation on American government before they went to see some debates. (After having the term "illibuster" explained later, one of the visitors said through an interpreter, "We have no word for that.")
Later they practiced under the lights at RFK to get acclimated to the conditions under which they will play a young and improving U.S. team made up primarily of U.S. citizens who played in the North American Soccer League, including Steve Percher (Dallas Tornado) and Jim McAlister (Seattle Sounders), the 1976 and 1977 NASl rookies of the year.
Yesterday morning the Chinese were back at RFK for a two-hour workout - no danger that they would be confused with the Redskins, because their pratice was open - after a joint breakfast with the Americans at the Washington Hotel.
The Chinese tried a little bit of everything - eggs, toast, sweet rolls, yogurt, melons, and rice porridge - even though they were going right out for practice. The like a big meal first: their training methods are a little different," said Arthur Rosen, president of the National Committee on U.S. China Relations, cosponsors of this tour with the U.S. Soccer Federation.
There was once unexpected reunion of sorts at breakfast. Defender Huang Hsiang-tung, 19, the youngest Chinese player, remembered forward Ricky Davis, 18, the youngest American from a 24-nation youth tournament in Yugoslavia in June. Davis a freshman Clara, is the only non-NASL player on the American roster.
This U.S. team - which includes Gary Etherington of Annandale, who starred at Mt. Vernon High and now plays for the Cosmos - is seen as the embryo that will develop into the next U.S. World Cup entry.
We've never had continuity before," said Walt Chyzowych, who left collegiate powerhouse Philadelphia Textile in August 1976, to take over the U.S. World Cup, Olympic, Pan American and Youth teams as the U.S. Soccer Federation's first full-time national coach. "We watched all the NASL teams, invited the best 30 U.S. citizens to camp, then selected a young team. Our average age is only at 22 but we've played 30 international games and made tremendous progress."
The current squad surprisingly won the "Festival of the Americans" in New Jersey last month, beating Colombia, Ecuador and a formidable team from Peru. On a subsequent tour of Central America the Americans beat El Salvador three times and lost once to Mexico and twice to Guatemalz.
It's difficult to assess our team because our players come from so many backgrounds and styles. It's a real mixture, but they've been together four weeks - more than any previous U.S. National Team," said Chyzowych. "Both our goalkeepers (Arnold Mausser of the Vancouver Whitecaps and Alan Mayer of the Las Vegas Quicksilver) have done exceptionally well. Our steadicst players have been Dave D'Errico (defender, Minnesota Kicks), Mike Flater (forward, Tampa Bay), Colin Fowles (forward, Ft. Lauderdale Strikers), and Davis."
The Chinese team is also young and inexperienced, having been formed in August for a tour to Korea. They played Thailand and two games against the NASL champion Cosmos at home in September, tying the Cosmos, 1-1, before a crowd of 85,000 in Peking and beating them, 2-1, in Shanghai.
"The Chinese are a very skillful, fit, and disciplined team," said Chyzowych. "They play a classical style of soccer, with intricate maneuvers off the ball. They're very quick and fast with good technique."