Offense will be the first order of business for the Washington Diplomats when they play host to the Connecticut (nee Hartford) Bicentennials in a North American Soccer League game at 2:30 p.m. today in RFK Stadium.
The Dips were shut out in their first two games at their new home facility, 1-0 by the Las Vegas Quicksilvers in the final preseason contest and 2-0 by the defending NASL champion Toronto Metros, in their league opener last week.
One of the highest scoring teams in the league a year ago (fifth), Washington attempted 23 shots against Toronto without scoring.
"We've got to score to win games," said confident Washington coach Dennis Viollet. "Right now I'm not worried about the lack of goals.We've got the forwards to score."
Actually, Washington has the potential to emerge as the top scoring team in the league.
To take advantage of his overabundance of talent at forward, Viollet has installed a "five-man" front line.
Peter Silvester, expected to carry the brunt of the attack, teams with speedy English recruit Jimmy Redfern and Leroy DeLeon, the club's top scorer in history, along the front.
Fleet Gary Darrell, the club's No. 2 goalmaker, starts in the midfield along with hustling John Kerr. Field general and assistant coach Alan Savin runs the show for the Dips.
Like Toronto, the Bi's also are defensive-minded and should offer Washington's attacking force a stern challenge.
While stationed in Hartford last season (12-12) the visitors topped the Dips twice, 1-0 and 2-1, but they since have undergone a complete facelifting.
Player-coach Bobby Thompson has his revitalized corps of veterans and newly recruited Portuguese players thinking Northern Division title.
Veteran goal keeper Jimmy Barron anchors a defensive back line composed of Thompson, Geoff Hammond, Joao Carlos and either Pete Chandler or Santiago Formoso. Vitor Moia, Don Gardner and Greg Downs will handle the scoring duties.
Thompson's team just arrived last week from training in Portugal, where they compiled a 2-1-1 exhibition mark. After meeting Washington in their league opener, the Bi's travel to Fort Lauderdale before playing host to the New York Cosmos in the Yale Bowl.
Like the Dips, Connecticut also will be missing several of its key performers because of commitments to their other clubs in Europe.
Defender Chris Turner and mid-fielders Doug Evans and Geoff Pike will join the Bi's in Mid-May.
Viollet is hopeful rugged midfielder Tony Macken, who performed superbly last year, will be released from Coventry City next week. Alan Green and Graham Oakey, also on loan from Coventry City, are expected to be in Washington uniforms soon.
In the meantime, Viollet is confident his totally rebuilt defense (except for goalkeeper Eric Martin) will hold off opponents while his attacking front five gambles at the opposite end of the field.
Martin, credited with but one save against Toronto, backs up Don McAllister, Ken Hill and Mike Lester, three of the English players signed this season.
Newly acquired back Alex Pringle is the fourth member of the defensive unit. Pringle, a standout player for the Tampa Bay Rowdies for three years, played 75 minutes in last week's game just 18 hours after playing in the Rowdies' 2-1 loss to Dallas.