Finally is the buzz word of the day for the Washington Diplomats.
Finally, at 2:30 p.m. today in RFK Stadium, Washington's soccer fans will get a look at the fabled Johan Cruyff in Diplomat red and white when the Dips open their home season against the Philadelphia Fury.
Finally, management will get some idea of how much the acquistion of Cruyff and other highly publicized players will mean to attendance -- although predicted rainstorms may be an inhibiting factor.
Finally, all the Diplomats are hoping they can get together for their first win of the season against a Philadelphia club that is 0-1 and has never beaten the Dips (0-2) in four meetings.
"Playing back at home should be a big lift for us," said Coach Gordon Bradley. "Last year we were very tough in RFK (12-4) and I know everyone is glad to be back on home ground, finally."
Twenty-four hours before the opener there was good news and bad news in Washington's continuing injury-related soap opera, Bradley's Hope.
The good news was the presence of 1979 leading scorer Alan Green at yesterday's workout and his participation in parts of it. Green, who scored two goals in the season-opening loss at Tampa Bay, missed last week's Tulsa game with a sprained ankle and appeared doubtful for Philadelphia on Friday.
After yesterday's workout, Bradley said there was a 50-50 chance Green would start. If Green can't go, Kenneth Mokgojoa again will start in his place.
The bad news was the confirmation that Spanish midfielder Juan Jose Lozano probably needs a week or two to rest his injured left instep.
"It's the type of thing that could become chronic," Bradley said. "We're going to look one more time before the game but I think's he's probably going to have to rest on it for 10 to 12 days. Otherwise, we could lose him for the season."
Bradley seems likely to start Joe Horvath, back from three weeks of nonroster status, in place of Lozano. He also could opt for Sakibviteskic but Horvath ran with the first team yesterday.
Nick Mijatovic, acquired from Rochester this week, also will start, in place of Gary Darrell at one center back spot.
The Fury lost its opener at Tampa Bay, 3-1. After two mediocre seasons on the field and two horrendous seasons at the gate, Philadelphia management went for broke during the offseason, hiring Eddie Firmani to coach the team.
Firmani, 46, coached Tampa Bay to the Soccer Bowl championship in 1975 and did the same for the Cosmos in 1977 and 1978 before being fired last May after a 9-2 start in a dispute with management.
Like every other coach facing Washington, Firmani's main concern this week has been Cruyff. Last week, Tulsa controlled the Dutchman with butcher-like tactics that ended with Cruyff leaving the game with 12 minutes left, "for his own protection,' according to the league report, after he had decked a Tulsa player.
Firmani said earlier this week that his team would not resort to Tulsa-type tactics. "You put a guy on him and try to keep him from turning on the ball," he said. "But he's such a good player, I don't think there's a guy who could knock him out of a game without being a bit brutal." The Fury's Tony Glavin will probably mark Cruyff.
Last season, in compiling a 10-20 record, Philadelphia has two bright spots: David Robb, third leading scorer in the league, and a first-round playoff upset over Houston, led by Robb. But Robb is gone, traded to Vancouver during the offseason, and the Fury's scoring punch is somewhat suspect. Firmani still is trying to put together a team that will fit his style of wide open, aggressive soccer.
That is the kind of soccer Washington management was expecting this season. It has gotten it thus far for one brilliant half in Tampa Bay -- the first. Since then, the Dips have scored one goal.
"We're just going to pretend the first two games were exhibitions," said General Manager Andy Dolich, "and try to get started in the right direction Sunday."
Bradley said yesterday the San Jose Earthquakes have signed South African Andries Maseko and he will negotiate with Jam Joge this week for compensation.