“In January, 1980, Gordon Bradley invited me to preseason in Jacksonville, Florida for a six week trial. I was on the Dips 1980 pre-season roster and participated in the training camp. We started workouts at RFK a couple of weeks before we were to go down to Jacksonville. I was in my last semester of college at American University, and would make the early morning trek via bus, and metro every day to get to training. My professors were very understanding, and they all agreed to have my school work sent down to me in Jacksonville. I would complete it, and send it back. I didn't mind because my homework filled in some of the down time we had when not training. Anyway, we were at a pre-season mini tournament in Tampa playing Tulsa when Jim Steele suffered a very bad injury, and I went in for him. Jim was a very popular and respected player, and it was an unfortunate way for me to get in the game.
I also remember meeting Johan Cruyff for the first time. A bunch of us were in my room at the Thunderbird Hotel in Jacksonville watching March Madness on television. There was a rumor going around we were about to sign a "big name" player, but didn't know who. Next thing I know Bob Iarusci walks into our room bringing Johan Cruyff, and Wim Jansen with him. Needless to say I was shocked!
I couldn't believe I was lying on my bed watching college basketball, and one of the game's greatest players just walked into my room. Introductions were made, and we all got back to watching the game trying not to act in awe of what had just taken place. The one thing I also remember about that day was Cruyff seemed to know everything about the college games we were watching. He knew players names, brackets, and general tactics of each game.
After a couple of training sessions the novelty wore off, and he became just one of the guys. Before we came back to DC Gordon asked me to stay on as he and (assistant coach) Joe Mallet wanted to have a longer look at me. They signed me on as an "amateur," paying me for "expenses."
I remember Wim being very shy, and polite, and just a really nice guy who sometimes gave me a ride home from training at the RFK practice field. There were many things I learned from both of those players as the days, weeks, and months of training went by.
I was also lucky enough to have Eric Martin for a roommate for those several weeks in Jacksonville. Not only was he an incredible goalkeeper, but he was a really nice guy with a very gray sense of humor that would crack me up. He decided to retire that year, but remained with the team in a coaching capacity.
It was such a different dynamic coming from college ball to playing with the Dips for that season. Plenty of personalities and plenty of stories were had, and even though I was only signed as an amateur I enjoyed every minute of it.