"We can't worry about the standings and points of other teams now," said Washington Diplomat coach Dennis Viollet, whose team must play four of its next five games on the road."We have to go out and get them ourselves."
The Dips (1-2) attempt to vacate the Eastern Division cellar when they face the division-leading Fort Lauderdale Strikers (4-0) today in Florida at 4 p.m.
Washington's improving defense has surrendered only three goals this season but its offense has managed but three itself. Two of the goals were by Peter Sylvester and the other was a gift from Connecticut in a 3-0 victory over the winless Bicentennials a week ago.
In its other two games, Washington was blanked by Toronto, 2-0, and by Tampa Bay, 1-0.
"Every team in the league is tough," said Viollet. "We're coming off a loss and they're coming off a win. We just have to go down there and do our bloody stuff."
The Strikers have been the early surprise of the North American Soccer League season.
Only 6-18 a year ago as the Miami Toros, Fort Lauderdale leads the NASL in points with 26.
Tony Whelan, voted player of the week for the second straight week, and Fred Pereira have five points each for the Strikers. Goalkeeper Gordon Banks has anchored the defense, allowing five goals while recording 18 saves.
For the fourth straight week, Washington will start a different lineup. Jim Steele, a defender from Southampton in England, joined the club last week and will start today in place of injured Alex Pringle (sprained back). Steele, Kenny Hill, Don McAllister and either Gene Mishalou or Roy Willner will join goalkeeper Eric Martin (11 saves) on defense.
Gary Darrell and Alan Spavin will be in the midfield along with Mark Liveric, obtained last week from San Jose in the trade for Leroy DeLeon. Mike Lester, Jimmy Redfern and Sylvester start at the forward spots.
"We had to make a few changes," added Viollet. "We were in the same position last year after three games and we made the playoffs. We just have to bounce back and get the job done."
Fort Lauderdale split two games with Washington last year but the Florida team leads the series, 6-1.