Johan Cruyff took the opening kick-off, dribbled down field against Diplomat defender Rene Breevoort, wheeled around and crossed the ball wildly.
It might have been the Dutch forward's only bad play in the Los Angeles Aztecs' 2-1 revenge win over Washington at RFK.
But to listen to the 5-9, 150-pound world class forward, even that opening move was intended to bring havoc to the Diplomat game plan.
"Maybe that shot would make them (the defenders) do something crazy," the soccer perfectionist said. "We wanted to get them out of their game strategy."
Cruyff's cross was harmless, but two later moves he made led to Aztec goals, before Los Angeles retired to a second half of defense against the Diplomats.
Cruyff is constantly thinking soccer, directing the Aztecs, serving as Coach Rinus Michels' right-hand man on the field.
"He's got great skills; he can anticipate where his teammates are, the moves of the ball," said Michels. "He's the man to take our kicks."
Cruyff's indirect kick from 40 yards out led to a goal by Thomas Rongen at 10:46 of the first half.
"The kick had a lot of twist," explained Cruyff, who took it despite a gash on his left instep received early that required four stitches afterwards. "It's hard to return because of the turn around the ball is taking."
Leo Van Veen's goal at 25:14 came off a beautiful left-side feed from Cruyff.
"You give the ball off and prepare to take a new position," said Cruyff. "They had to choose how to defend us. We had the possibilities. (If Washington had covered Van Veen he would have returned the ball to Cruyff for the goal shot)."
The assist gave Gruyff nine goals and 13 assists in 19 games since joining the Aztecs in late May.
Having established the Aztec lead, Cruyff was ready to defend it, even if that meant playing sweeper.
"We're having trouble with our defense," explained Michels, whose squad has two injured defenders. "I knew I could move him (Cruyff) into defense and he would keep us organized."
"You do what ever you have to win," Cruyff said. "We've had so many injuries and this heat is impossible. We had to change everything."
Diplomat Coach Gordon Bradley marveled over Cruyff's versatility.
"The extra room on our field (as compared to the Rose Bowl, home of the Aztecs) helps his versatility," Bradley explained. "When they needed him on defense, he was able to go back and play defense. He played superbly."
And of most importance to Cruyff, his effort yesterday may have helped soccer in the United States.
"Despite the heat and injuries you've got to play to promote soccer," said Cruyff, who was presented a trophy by the Dutch ambassador to the United States, Age R. Rammenoms Bakker. "It was a good sign (the Dips' crowd of 26,924). I hope my plan on national television will make more people want to come out." CAPTION: Picture, Thomas Rongen of Aztecs gets a head on the ball as Joe Horvath of the Diplomats moves in to attempt interception. By Lucian Perkins - The Washington Post