The defending North American Soccer League champion Toronto Metros ruined the Washington Diplomats' home opener yesterday with a 2-0 victory before 7,964 at RFK stadium.
The Canadian visitors, who have a reputation in the league for playing defense and ignoring offense for the entire game, jumped ahead with two goals in the first half. If the Dips had used 22 players instead of the normal 11, it still might have been virtually impossible to penetrate the eight, nine and sometimes 10-man defensive wall formed by the Metros in the second half.
"I don't usually criticize teams but you have to be frustrated playing against a club that plays defense all the time," said Washington coach Dennis Viollet.
"Unfortunately, they got that first goal. We knew we were in trouble," he added. "Defensively we did a lot of good things. We had several good scoring chances and we failed to capitalize."
The Dips could not complain about their lack of opportunities, outshooting Toronto 23-10 - 16-5 in the second half.
Washington dominated play after intermission but every time it looked as if the Dips were about to score their first goal of the '77 season, Toronto defenders Bob Iarusci, Filip Blaskovic, Mizden Cukon, Ted Polak and goalie Zelijko Bilecki (10 saves) would be there.
"It was diffcult to break that defense down," said Dips' forward Peter Silvester, who had five chances.
Silvester managed to score a goal in the first half but it was nullified by an offside call. With 16 minutes remaining in the game, Silvester hit a solid shot from 15 yards out, but Bilccki smothered it at the mouth of the net.
Gary Darrell, Leroy DeLeon and Jimmy Redfern also had excellent scoring chances but like Silvester, were thwarted each time.
Darrell had the best chance when he recovered a missed shot by John Kerr inside in the penalty area early in the second half. His 10-yard attempt was blocked, but he controlled it again and with Bilecki helpless, fired it right to the prone goalie.
Washington, which split two 1-0 games with the NASL titlists last season, came out aggressively and except for several find plays by Bilecki, who was voted the Defensive Player of the game, and Blaskovic, would have scored in the opening minutes.
A foul called against Washington at the 28:38 mark led to Toronto's first goal. The Dips set up their six-man wall against the Metro free kick attempt but Goran Kovacic rifled a shot that bounced off DeLeon's leg past surprised Washington goalie Eric Martin.
"It hit off my thigh and went past me," said DeLeon, who started in the midfield to give the hosts more scoring punch. "The second goal, I just misplayed."
The second goal was a result of DeLeon's failure to properly clear the ball out fo the Washington penalty area.
On one of the few occasions Toronto even bothered to force play offensively, Miaden Puseij was standing all alone just at the top of the penalty box when DeLeon badly played a ball off his knee. The Metros' midfielder controlled the ball and hammered a shot from 18 yards away into the top left-hand corner of the net. Toronto led, 2-0 with 34:35 gone in the first half.
Toronto then dropped back into its blanket defense for the rest of the game.
Metro first year coach Ivan Sangulin said his team was indeed not defensive-oriented. "Just smart," he said, through interpreter and assistant coach Makjan Bilio.
"Our plan of attack is to put more people back on defense. That way we have more to operate when we convert to offense. If we're back, the other team comes up to try to score."
The strategy worked last year. After finishing 15-9 in the regular season, Toronto parlayed a goal here and there with its tough defense and won the title.
Washington hosts the Connecticut Bicentennials in its next game at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at RFK.