Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The Washington Diplomats took another giant step toward burying themselves in last place for good last night, dropping a 2-0 decision to the Las Vegas Quicksilvers in front of 9,653 fnns at RFK Stadium.
Once again, Washington couldn't take advantage of scoring opportunities. The Dips threatened to score throughtout the first half, but it was ex-Diplomat Gerry Ingram who scored the first goal of the night, banging a perfect 25-yard shot into the net at the 43.46 mark.
That was all the scoring the Quicksilvers needed to break a four-game losing streak. They scored an insurance tally early in the second half when Dip defender Don McCallister inadvertently headed a Las Vegas crossing pass by his own goalie Eric Martin with 59:15 played.
"It's just incredible, baffling," Washington coach Dennis Viollet said, shaking his head. "We've had chances, we've worked hard and we just can't score. Our shots just miss and then they get a goal that just goes into the corner of the net."
The defeat, the fourth in a row and sixth in seven games for the Dips, dropped their record to 6-9, good for 51 points and a very secure spot in last place of the Eastern Division of the North American Soccer League. The Quicksilvers raised their mark to 10-7 and 81 points, putting them to playoff contention in the league's strong Southern Division.
The Dips, who have scored only four goals in their seven-game drought, started last night as if they intended to halt their problems.
Four times in the early going, Las Vegas goalie Alan Mayer had to come up with tough saves.The best chance for Washington came midway in the half when midfielder Jim Redfern, the only Diplomat to score a goal in the last four games, sent forward Alan Green in on the left side with a perfect chip shot pass.
But as Green headed the ball towards the open left-hand corner of the net, Mayer came out and deflected the ball over the end line. Moments later Bobby Stokes had a similar-opportunity, a little farther out, but again Mayer came up with the save.
Mayer's goalkeeping - he leads the league with an 0.91 goals against average and eight shutouts - seemed to take the steam out of Washington. The Silvers had several hard shots on Martin before Ingram scored what proved to be the game winner.
He picked the ball up off a scramble 25 yards out from the Dips' goal and lofted a soft line drive just past the reach of the diving Martin. The unassisted goal was Ingram's fourth goal of the season.
"A game like this very tough because both teams are trying to gain the initiative and end their losing streaks." Ingram said as he greeted old friends in the visitors locker room. "There wasn't much time left in the half when I got the ball so I just gave it a try.
"I know how Washington feels because we've been having trouble scoring too," he added. "I still have a place in my heart for them. I'd like to see them win their next five."
At this point Washington, which must play in Toronto Thursday night, would settle for one win. They trail third place Tampa Bay for the final playoff spot in the East by 23 points - or three wins - with 11 games left to play.
"I wish I could go in and slaughter them with words for not trying or not shooting, but I can't." Viollet said. "We outshot them (30-15) and had a good team effort. Maybe what we need is a bigger goal to shoot at."