Washington Diplomat midfielder Wilm Jansen was on the bench, hobbled by a groin pull-suffered early in the second half, when Washington and Tampa Bay trotted to the sideline to prepare for their NASL shootout Saturday.
The score was 2-2. Had the game been in Europe, where the 15-year veteran and former teammate of Johan Cruyff earned his reputation, the teams would have shaken hands and headed for the nearest pub.
But this was the NASL. There asre no ties. There are shootouts: one-on-one confrontations which last five seconds each, with differnt players taking each shot.
"It was strange watching that," said the 33-year-old Jansen, who is expected to help give the Dips the midfield leadership they lacked last year. "I had never seen the shootout before and it was interesting. If I had not been injured. I'm not sure I would have wanted to try it. On second thought, I might have tried it."
With their $4 million midfield -- Jansen, Cruyff, and Juan Jose Lozano -- the Dips don't envision too many overtime games.
"He's a good player," said striker Alan Green, who holds the early league lead in scoring with four points (two goals). "He's a good reader of the game and he and Cruyff are a good combination. Jansen is very good with the ball and knows what to do with it when he gets it."
Dip Coach Gordon Bradley would like to see Jansen with the ball quite a bit. The former Dutch star, who has played in 59 official and unofficial international matches with the National team and in the last two World Cup finals, is very adept at sending the ball to the right people up front and is considered an excellent defensive midfielder.
"I think my strength is delivering the ball to the attackers," said Jansen, who signed a multilayer contract after being acquired from Feyenoord last month. The experience should be helpful to the younger players. I hope they can learn from me. I guess I'm sort of a leader."
Although the Dips lost, 3-2, in the shootout at Tampa Bay, Bradley was pleased with the team's performance Jansen's in particular.
"I thought I played well. We were two minutes from winning the game." said Bradley. "In the shootout, you can flip a coin. Many of the players don't like it. All three of the new players (Cruyff, Lozano and Jansen) were injured and couldn't take the shootout . You don't assign certain players to go out there, anyway. Some players don't feel comfortable.
"But I was satisifed with the team. Jansen gives us the good defense in the middle. And we need him to deliver the ball to the front. Wim is a fine player and well-experienced. We want him to control and organize things for us out there."
While the masterful Cruyff freelanced from one sport on the field to another, Jansen ran the team to perfection. Directing, pointing, passing and shouting instructions to teammates, he looked comfortable in his new role.
"I don't think I'll have any problems adjusting to the players and they won't have one getting used to me," said Jansen. "We have good players. That one game was disappointing because we lost six points. But it's always hard on you when you lose."
Jansen accustomed to the three-midfield alignment, like Bradley's 2-4-4 attack.
"You have to run a bit more but it gives you strength in the middle." said Jansen. "Green and Ken (Mokgojoa) are both fast so I can play the ball to their feet or give them the long ball. We just need a little more time together. I don't think we played bad for the first time."
With defenders Jim Steele, Don Droege and Mike Dillon all out with injuries, the Dips may have to rely more on finesse than physical-type player, Jansen grinned, held up his elbow and said, "I like to win."
Bradley, looking for some defensive help, brought in Austrian centerback Dieter Constantini yesterday for a tryout.