The Washington Diplomats, struggling to stay afloat in the Eastern Division race, hope injuries and wedding bells don't haunt them when they visit the Dallas Tornado for a North American Soccer League game tonight at 9.
Washington coach Dennis Viollet will be forced to shuffle his lineup to replace several starters.
Alan Green, whose 20-yard shot whipped St. Louis, 2-1, in overtime last week, reinjured his knee and is doubtful. Defender Ken Hill also reinjured a pulled groin muscle and will probably not make the trip. Other Dips ailing are Mike Lester (strained leg muscle), Don McAllister (leg muscle) and Jim Steele (knee bruise). He will probably start however.
Bobby Stokes, the team's leading scorer with nine points, has returned to England to get married this weekend.
"Too many injuries," moaned Viollet," who undoubtedly recalls that his team was wiped out by injuries two years ago and missed the playoffs. "We'll have to make a lot of changes. Every game now is the most important of the season and we have to be at our best each time."
Despite several losses by the other three Eastern Division clubs - the Cosmos, Tampa Bay and Fort Launderdale - the Dips (6-5) are still anchored in last place with 50 points, 14 fewer than Tampa Bay.
Viollet's offense showed some spark last week, outshooting St. Louis, 16-9. Washington has scored a total of 12 goals in 11 games.
"I was happier with last week's performance but we can do better," said Viollet. "St. Louis helped us out (the Stars beat Fort Lauderdale Wednesday, 1-0) and that should give us some inspiration. We can do ourselves a big favor by winning tonight."
That will not be easy. With a victory, Dallas (8-5, 74 points) can move past Los Angeles (9-3, 80 points) for first place in the Southern Division.
One of the highest-scoring teams in the league, Dallas has racked up eight goals in its last two outings. Kyle Rote Jr., who accounted for five goals in the last two Tornado wins, 17 points.
Dallas also has two other fine American players in defenders Steve Pecher, the NASL's rookie of the year in 1976 and Glenn Myernick, the No. 1 draft choice this year.
Ken Cooper is outstanding in the net, having allowed only nine goals with three shutouts. He ranks third in the league.
Under normal conditions, Viollet would not flinch at Dallas' offensive statistics. His defensive unit of Alex Pringle, Steele, Hill, McAlister, Lester and substitute Roy Willner have held opponents to 11 goals to rank first (along with Minnesota) in the league in goals allowed.
Goalkeeper Eric Martin is fourth in goals allowed with a 0.96 average. He has 57 saves and three shutouts.
"The injuries certainly don't help," said Viollet. "If McAllister is fit, he'll mark Rote. If not, I don't know."
Washington has done well on the road with victories over Chicago, St. Louis and San Jose. The Dips have lost in Fort Lauderdale and Rochester.
Washington hosts Chicago Wednesday night at RFK Stadium.