In the 1974 World Cup Tournament, Dutch stars Johan Cruyff and Rob Rensenbrink were sensational in leading Holland into the cup final.
Now, six years later, the electrifying pair will be on the same field again but on different teams. Cryuff is in his second year in the NASL and first with the Washington Diplomats (3-3) while Rensenbrink recently joined the Portland Timbers (1-4).
Unfortunately, wingers Cruyff and Rensenbrink won't be pitted directly against one another when the teams meet Sunday at RFK Stadium at 2:30 p.m.
Each has much respect for the other. Ironically, neither has scored a goal this season.
Rensenbrink, an expert dribbler, is nicknamed "the Snake man" because of his twisting, slanting moves in traffic with the ball. He rarely loses the ball and usually waits until the last possible second before passing to a teammate.
Cruyff, who played against his countryman briefly in an exhibition match several years ago, said, "His body does so many things at once, it's hard to know what he'll do. Whatever he does with the ball, he's always in control. He's always dribbling."
As for defending against him, Cruyff said, "You don't give him the opportunity to outplay you."
Washington Coach Gordon Bradley, who has seen Rensenbrink in action many times, isn't sure who will cover the Portland winger. But, undoubtedly, the defender will get a quick lesson in tactics from both Cruyff and Bradley. t
"He's very crafty," said Bradley. "He flows past opponents easily and is always twisting and swaying with the ball. He moves around a lot."
Rensenbrink, who played nine years with Anderlecht of Belgium in addition to making more than 30 international appearances along with Cruyff for Holland, joined the Timbers three games ago.
"I had heard about the NASL from some of my countrymen and I wanted to come over and play," said Rensenbrink, 33. "The people in my country said because I had played nine years with Anderlecht, it was okay for me to go. I would like to play here maybe two, three years,
"Right now, I'm getting used to the style of play here," said Rensenbrink.
"It'll be good to see and play with Johan again."
The Timbers, who had been suffering in the won-lost column and at the turnstiles, felt the answer to both problems would be solved by signing a world-class player.
"Coach (Don) Megson and I had been looking at Rensenbrink since October," said Timber General Manager Pete Warner. "We were determined to get a world-class performer to play up front and Rob is still one of the best in the world today."
Portland has scored only three goals in five games. But striker Clyde Best, the team's all-time leading scorer, and fast-improving right winger Dale Mitchell should team with Rensenbrink to give Portland a potent front line.
Rensenbrink, who signed a two-year contract for a reported $1 million, almost scored in both of Portland's 1-0 losses to Settle and Tampa Bay.
Rensenbrink has shown no ill effects from a knee operation for torn cartilage. "I hurt my leg playing last year with Anderlecht but I finished the year. I have no problems with the leg now. I'm looking forward to playing here."