Johan Cruyff started the Washington Diplomats on a four-goal binge in the first half, then the Dips started clock-watching and settled for a 5-4 triumph over the San Jose Earthquake before 14,322 at RFK Stadium yesterday.
Washington (6-9), in winning its second straight game, burned a nonexistant Quake defense for four goals in the first 25 minutes.
Cruyff, who had been sidelined with a leg injury for several weeks, started it all with his forst goal as a Dip, on a penalty kick. He left the game later in the first half, not to return when his leg stiffened.
Alan Green scored his 12th and 13th goals of the year to become Washington's all-time leading scorer and Tony Crescitelli knocked in his first two goals as a Dip. He scored what proved to be the winning goal 23 minutes into the second half.
"We did what we wanted in the first 30 minutes of the half," said Dip Coach Gordon Bradley, who looked as if his team had lost. "We were ahead, 4-0, at intermission, then stopped running to a point in the second half. Just a lack of concentration. We didn't play with as much enthusiasm in the final 10 minutes of the first half and I felt at halftime if we went back out there and did the same things, we'd be in for it."
A new Washington team strolled out after intermission. San Jose, worn out by the humidity and shell-shocked by the Washington goals, somehow pulled its pride together and came back.
Peter Lechermann started the Quake comeback with a goal at the 50:21 mark. The shot was only San Jose's fifth of the game but the goal came so easy it caused a slight murmur in the stands. The uneasiness subsided momentarily when Crescitelli, a two-year veteran from North Adams (Mass.) State, hooked a high ball just out of the reach of Quake keeper Chris Turner to push the Diplomat lead to 5-1, at 68:32.
That was it for Washington. San Jose became the aggressor and the Dips went flat.
"I'm not surprised it happened," said Washington's Robert Iarusci. "We are scrimmaging two hours the day before a game. That's bound to take something out of you.After 70 minutes on that humid field, you get tired. We need to tone down our before-game workouts some."
Despite the Iarusci-led defense's effort to stop San Jose, the Quakes struck not once, not twice but three times in the 15 minutes following Crescitelli's goal.
Steve David raced past two Washington defenders and looped a shot over Dip goalie Bill Irwin's head into the net to cut the game to 5-2. George Best scored on a penalty kick to make it 5-3, with 6:58 to play. Fifty seconds later, San Jose rushed back down field and Slavko Licinar rolled in another goal to bring the visitors closer, 5-4, with ample time remaining.
"We were disgraceful in the second half," stormed Iarusci, "We started watching the clock and thinking the game had ended.
Every time you start doing that, the other team gets a goal and another and another. I knew we would try to sit on it after we went up 4-0. No concentration at all in the second half. We could have won 10-0 or lost."
Washington, in the first half hardly looked like a team that had been having offensive problems. The Quakes (5-11), who were bombed by Fort Lauderdale, 4-0, Wednesday night, looked shaky at the onset. Washington wasted no time testing the defense, firing four quick shots at Turner, in the first three minutes.
Cruyff, who has been hobbled with a pulled muscle in his right thigh, was the catalyst, sending one perfect pass after another to his teammates. But the Dips didn't get on the board until former Washington forward Andries Maseko was called for a foul on Tommy O'Hara. The Dips were awarded a penalty kick and Cruyff easily drilled the ball in the net to give his team a 1-0 lead, at 9:25.
That opened the gates. San Jose began to wilt and Green, taking a pass from O'Hara slipped in an eight-yarder for a 2-0 lead. San Jose screamed that O'Hara was offside on the play but referee Bob Evans signaled goal.
"That quick two-goal lead put us in the hole right away," said Coach Bill Foulkes. "I didn't think either goal shoud have counted. But they did and we never really recovered."
Cruyff outfoxed his defender along the back line of the San Jose box and gave the ball to a wide-open Green in the middle of the net. Green, who took 10 shots, didn't get all of his foot on the ball but Crescitelli was right there and hit a perfect bullet that found the net for a 3-0 lead at 22:57.
"This was my chance to make or break myself," said Crescitelli, who had played only 15 minutes this year. "I felt real comfortable out there and I thought I did okay."
At this point, San Jose was so unorganized the Diplomaniac mascot could have trotted out and scored. Nearly two minutes later ("They had all the room they wanted and did what they wanted," Turner said), Green converted a Wim Hansen pass into another goal and what seemed to be an insurmountable 4-0 Dip advantage.
"It happened so fast, we didn't know what to do," said Turner, who had six saves when he wasn't dodging Washington's 33 shots. "They just walked down the sideline and crossed the ball at will."
Washington didn't let up until late in the first half. Crescitelli and Joe Horvath also put the ball in the net in the first half but both goals were nullified by offside calls. Two other near-certain goals were barely stopped by Turner and defender Mike Czuczman. nWashington could have been ahead by at least eight goals in the first half.
"We've had games like this," said another former Dip, defender Ane Mihailovich, who left the game with a ankle injury. "Stupid, stupid mistakes to get behind. Our other games we've lost by a goal or overtime. This one we got behind so fast."