"At first I thought it would be a fun trip," said Washington Diplomat Coach Gordan Bradley. "I wanted to enjoy it.
"But now," Bradley continued, "it's a serious business."
The serious business Bradley referred to is the championship game tomorrow night (tonight, Washington time) of the President's Cup soccer tournament, matching the Diplomats against the South Korean national team.
The two teams survived a two-week tournament involving 15 teams from 13 countries. Other countries that sent teams are Brazil, West Germany, Japan, Kenya, New Zealand, Mexico, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Bahrain, Thailand, Greece, Lebanon and The Sudan.
Washington, after losing its first game, 3-2, to one of the two South Korean teams, won its next four, defeating Bahrain, Malaysia, Mexico and Morocco.
Except for regulars Paul Cannell, Andries Maseko and Ken Kokgojoa, who have returned to their native countries, Bradley had the services of all his Washington players. In addition, he had on loan Fort Lauderdale's Ron Hudson and David Irving and San Jose's Paul Child.
Soccer is the most popular sport in South Korea. When the Diplomats defeated Morocco, 3-1, in a semifinal game Wednesday night, there were 30,000 in the stands here.
Earlier games drew large crowds in Pusan and Teague.
Bradley said he thought it would be a good idea for the Diplomats to continue yearly tours during the offseason to Europe, Latin America and Asia. It is the first time that the U.S. pro soccer team has come to this part of the world.
Reviewing the five games the Diplomats have played here, Bradley said, "Every game was close and very competitive."
He said the Diplomats lost the first game to Korea-A because his players were tired after the 30-hour plane trip. Korea-A is the team the Diplomats will play in the final.
Child, who has scored five goals for the Diplomats, said that Korean spectators have been wonderful. "I've traveled to many parts of the world to play soccer, but I think the reaction of Korean crowds is probably the best," he said.
Bradley added that Korean fans are receptive to soccer games. "They don't degrade players," instead, they praise and applaud a player whenever he makes a good play. They never whistle or boo a player who makes a mistake."
Everett Germain, a club representative, said that the 20 man troupe - 16 players, three officials and trainer, have enjoyed the tour. He said: "We have had a great experience. People couldn't have been friendlier."