A survey of the 24 North American Soccer League coaches asking them to name the best Soccer team in the world, might result in a unanimous vote for the Cosmos.
"No question, they have the best individual players in the world," said Washington Diplomats' Coach Gordon Bradley, who coached the Cosmos 6 1/2 years before coming here. "They're the defending champions and a favorite to win again, but we aren't going up there with a negative attitude. We plan to play attacking football and not drop too far back on defense all the time."
The teams play today at 2:30 at Giants Stadium in east Rutherford, N.J. A crowd of 50,000 is expected.
Washington, 9-8 with 80 points, is hoping to gain ground in its relentless chase of the division-leading Cosmos, 13-2 and 111 points.
The talent-rich Cosmos have at least five players who, if they had not been enticed by the big money of the New York-New Jersey franchise, probably would be competing in the World Cup.
(Kaiser) Beckenbauer, acknowledged by many as the finest overall soccer player in the world.
The West German midfielder (five goals, nine assists) is flanked by Terry Garbett (one goal, one assist) and Yugoslavian terror Vladislav Begicevic (six goals, 10 assists). The Cosmos' mid-field threesome has 12 goals and 10 assists compared to Washington's total of seven goals and four assists at those positions.
The front line of feisty Italian striker Giorgio Chinaglia, the NASL's leading scorer with 42 points (17 goals, seven assists) and Dennis Tueart (six goals, seven assists) is expected to give the Dips trouble, despite the return of defensive leader and sweeper-back Jimmy Steels.
"We have to think offense all the time," said Bradley. "We have to put pressure on them."
The Cosmos believe in applying pressure to their foes. They have produced 47 goals, 13 more than any other team in the league. The defensive unit of Warner Roth, Bobby Smith and Brazilian stalwarts Carlos Alberto and Nelson Moraif and Turkish goalie Lerol Yasin has allowed only 16 goals, one more than league co-leader New England and Detroit.
Yasin ranks third in the league in goals against an average of 0.95. He has allowed 12 goals while recording 84 saves and posting five shutouts in 13 games.