They come from Botswana, Cuba, Kuwait, Venezuela, Bolivia and 11 other countries. Practicing on a borrowed field, their thrice-a-week workouts end as most people are arriving at work.
"Getting up and practicing together at 6 a.m. is a lot like jail," offered George Washington's soccer coach, Georges Edeline. "That's why so many different nationalities on the team can get along like they do: shared hardship tends to increase cooperation."
He Colonial soccer team gets along well enough to have won 13 of its last 14 games, dating back to last season, and now has become the class of the area. Ranked second only to Loyola of Baltimore in the Middle Atlantic Region, GW has been tabbed one of the top 20 teams in the country by Soccer Digest magazine.
Twenty-one players return of the 24 who, in 1977, accounted for GW's best season ever. Following losses in their first two games a year ago, the Colonials ran off 10 straight victories before a 4-0 setback to top-ranked Clemson in the first round of the NCAA playoffs.
"I think we're a little stronger this season," said Edeline. "The players have a lot of desire and spirit."
"They get along without conflicts. Although some of their home countries have problems between them, the players live here like brothers. If the United Nations were run like this, there would be more peace in the world."
That peace apparently does not extend to opponents on the field. In the Colonial's 1-0 victory over Maryland last week, GW players were citied for 31 fouls and sent for Terps to the sideline with injuries.
The prevalence of so many foreign players on the team - only four one a regular, are Americans - and the rougher style they are used to likely accounts for the hard contact.
Edeline attributes the diversification of his team to the many nationalities represented at GW. He added that he does not actively recruit many players, but that many do receive partial or full aid after making the team. Five starters are not on scholarships.
The one American starter is junior goalkeeper Jeff Brown, a graduate of Carroll High School. Brown has earned his playing time by shutting our opponents in 17 of the 26 games he has played in goal since starting as a freshman.
"He is one of the best goalies in the country," said Maryland Coach Jim Dietsch after Brown made five saves against the Terrapins. He stopped some shots I thought we had sure scores on. Hardly any other goalie would have made those plays."
"Jeff has outstanding hands and his height (6-foot-3) enables him to range a greater distance in the goal," said Edeline. "The only things he needs to work on are minor points, such as going one on one with a striker. That will come with teaching."
Brown's job is made easier by the fine play of his defensemen. Freshman Philip Smith and Junior Kevin Dill were teammates on the Bermuda national team. Sophomore Michel Vaugeois of France and Iranian sweeper Mohsen Miri, converted from a forward, complete a back line that held George Mason without a shot on goal in GW's season-opening 1-0 victory.
Midfielder Osogho Odu of Nigeria, who demonstrated his offensive prowess was a 45-yard goal against Howard last year, is the playmaker. He sets up a forward line that includes Bolivians Wilfredo Zenzano and Juan Pablo Calvo on the wings.
Midfielder Farid Al-Awadi of Kuwait, who moves in to become a second center on offense, scored the goal against George Mason and assisted on Zenzano's goal against Maryland.
The Colonials, with only four seniors on this year's team, could be on the verge of a dynasty.
Griffiths Dambe headed in a corner kick at 86:54 yesterday to lead visiting George Washington to a 2-1 victory over Catholic. George Washington's record is 3-0, Catholic is 2-4.
Freshman Kevin Barth scored two goals and Danny Beyers had a goal and as assist to lead American to a 3-0 win over visiting Georgetown yesterday. Barth has four goals in American's first three games.
Albert Patty scored with 1:08 gone in the second half to lead the University of the District of Columbia to a 1-0 soccer victory over visiting Spring Garden College of Philadelphia yesterday. UDC is now 2-0, while Spring Garden is 4-1.
Prince George's Community College fired 50 shots at the Chesapeake CC goal, John Black scoring three times and Sasan Rahadi twice, in a 14-0 win at home yesterday.