Well, Johan Cruyff cussed a referee in five languages, hoping the dolt understood one of them, and Johan got thrown out of the game even though he wasn't playing.
Yes, and Joe Horvath wasn't playing either, but he got thrown out for shoving an official twice, the second time just to make sure the deadhead got the message.
Oh, and then a beer-belly fan came out of the stands and hit the official with his fist, knocking him down. And when the official got up, someone threw a bottle, or a rock, at him. It hit him on the head, knocking him down again. aHe took an eightcount.
The Diplomats, who have had so much trouble scoring that one goal is reason for silly celebration, had two goals disallowed by the officials. Not one goal. Not just Cruyff's first goal of the season. But two goals, including Alan Green's apparent game-winning goals with less than five minutes to go.
Oh, yes, 53,351 people came to RFK Stadium for the game. That's the second-largest American soccer crowd ever outside the New York area. The traffic jams started at noon. The attendance broke the Diplomats' previous record by almost 18,000 people.
Ho-hum. Just another soccer game. How dull.
How thrilling, in fact.
"It was perfect, fantastic," Cruyff said of the 53,351 people.
"I was awe-stricken," said defender Bob Iarusci, a third-year Diplomat who can remember the painful experience of walking into pizza places in his Diplomat uniform trying to sell people tickets and having them look at him as if he were spoiled pepperoni. "I didn't realize how beautiful this stadium could be, filled up."
The place was a kaleidoscope.
For Redskin games, the high-rolling season ticket holders come in pinstriped suits and very proper sportswear. See and be seen is their game. Not so with the 53,351 customers at RFK yesterday, for they came in about 50,000 soccer uniforms.
Leaping out of the traffic jam at 1 o'clock to walk the last block to RFK, five members of a family left their car.
A boy, maybe 10, wore a T-shire emblazoned, "Ambicini of Italy Soccer Team." Another boy, 13 or 14, had a T-shirt proclaiming,"Soccer Players Do It for Kicks." Their sister came in soccer socks, too, and the mother and father looked as if they were ready to kick Giorgio Chinaglia on the shins.
"Colorful," Iarusci said, almost dreamily. "More colorful than a Redskin crown. All those colors all around, the field so wide. My adrenaline was going all game. Not one time on the field was I tired.I just kept going."
We haven't said who won.
The cosmos won, 2-1, on a shootout that went down to the fifth, and last, Diplomat -- Iarusci -- before the decision was final.
The Diplomats lost, yes, but they won more than they lost. Not only did the players acquit themselves admirably against one of the world's best teams -- the world's, not just the North American Soccer League's -- but the Diplomats' front office, in producing a crowd of 53,351, must have set a Washington record for doing the most with the least.
When did a 3-6 team last break its all-time attendance record by 17,731?
"And we didn't even need Inflate-a-Fan," said General Manager Andy Dolich, naming his promoter's dream scheme of filling seats with those blow-up dolls that commuters use to fool the cops.
"It was," said the Diplomats' public relations director, Jim Trecker, with wonderful overstatement, "the greatest day in history."
No one is arguing.
It will be two weeks before the Diplomats play at home again. Buy your tickets now. Sometime very soon, this soccer team is going to be very good. Without baseball to love, with football a game of mysterious behemoths, with basketball pricing itself out of business, with hockey limited to those intellectuals who understand icing -- that leaves us the Diplomats, which is a very nice thing indeed, for nothing this side of the Redskins-Cowboys compares to yesterday's Diplomats-Cosmos.
Midway through the first half, the game even had a Johan Cryff goal. Second only to Pele as the world's greatest player in the last decade, Cruyff has not scored a goal in his 10 games with the Diplomats. But he headed a Joe Horvath corner kick into the net early yesterday.
"The goal that Johan scored," said Diplomat coach Gordon Bradley, "was one of the better goals ever scored in American soccer. I cannot believe the goal was disallowed. The goalkeeper never reacted at all, the ball was struck so quickly past him.
"It was a perfect pass from Joe Horvath and the ball went off Johan's head like a rocket. Who's ever going to save that one?"
But the referee, Toros Kibritjian, disallowed the goal, saying that Green obstructed the movement of the goalkeeper.
Then, late in the game, Green drew goalkeeper Hubert Birkenmeier out of the net. Birkenmeier fell trying to stop Green, who then bounced a shot into the net for the goal that would have given the Diplomats a 2-1 lead.
This time linesman Gordon Arrowsmith said no. He said Ken Mokgojoa, by trying to kick at Green's shot, committed something called "dangerous play." Apparently that means Mokgojoa endangered the nearest Cosmos' defender, Jeff Durgan. TV replays showed that Mokogojoa's sinful deed consisted of a quick kick to Durgan's shin, if that.
"A wonderful goal, absolutely wonderful," Bradley said. "We've never had 53,000 people in this stadium before and in my opinion we were the better team and I think we deserved at least one of those goals."
If we might argue with Bradley's idea that 53,000 screaming fans should give the home team the edge in debatable decisions, it still is true that the Diplomats were a nice team yesterday. For now they are having troubles scoring, at times even stopping rushes for no good reason other than needless caution. And they are luckless. They would have taken a 1-0 lead in the shootout had Carmine Marcantonio's kick, the Diplomats' third of five, been six inches right instead of hitting the left post.
"In practice, we do shootouts," larusci said. "The other day I was four for four; Alan didn't miss, Carmine didn't either. But we get to a game . . ."
The Diplomats have failed on 10 straight shootout kicks.
Iarusci, going last in the shootout, had Birkenmeier beaten. The keeper was on the ground. But before Iarusci could get the shot off, Birkenmeier made a sensational play, reaching out with his right hand to swipe the ball off Iarusci's foot.
"Maybe I pushed too close to him." Ia rusci said. "If I had taken the ball more horizontall away from him, instead of diagonally . . . You want so much to please the crowd, to send them home happy. and you come off the field with egg on your face. You don't know what to do."
Before the game, Sonny Werblin talked to the team. He's the president of Madison Square Garden, the owner of the Diplomats. "I told them to put aside whateve personal difference they might have," he said, alluding to the inevitable dissension that comes when great expectations are followed by only three victories in nine games. "I told them they are professionals, highly paid professionals who are very, very good. They can beat anybody if they work together."
Afterward, Werblin spoke to the team again. He told them he was proud of them. He told them they had played wonderfully. He thanked them.
"I've seen soccer games all over the world," Werlin said, "and this was probably the best soccer game ever played in the United States."