The Washington Diplomats hope to snap a five-game losing streak when new coach Alan Spavin makes his home debut tonight at RFK Stadium against the Rochester Lancers. Game time is 7 p.m.
The Dips have lost seven of their last eight games and have scored just five goals during that streak. They have lost a coach, Dennis Viollet, who resigned under pressure last Wednesday. And their chances for a spot in the North American Soccer League playoffs, are extremely dim.
With a 6-10 record and 52 points the Dips are locked so deep in the cellar of the league's Eastern Division that if they won their remaining 10 games they still wouldn't be a sure bet to make the playoffs.
Spavin's first game as coach Thursday in Toronto was much the same as Viollet's final seven contests as coach.
The Diplomats had chances and failed to take advantage of them. The result was a 2-1 defeat. On one occasion, Bobby Stokes got around Metro goalkeeper Zeljko Bilecki and had an open net to shoot at. He decided to pass to Gary Darrell. Darrell's shot was deflected by a Toronto defender.
That play was symptomatic of the problems that drove Viollet into the front office. Although Darrell eventually score his first goal since 1975, it wasn't enough to prevent another loss.
Having failed to end their losing streak by changing coaches, the Diplomats will try another angle tonight.
On hand will be a club imported witch doctor who will try to hex the Lancers and conjure up some goals for the punchless Diplomats. The Dips have also issued an invitation to all clergy to attend and bring the club luck. Unfortunately, Pele is not a man of the cloth. He, or a similar scoring star, is what the Diplomats need more than hexes or good-luck charms.
The Lancers have not had much more success than the Diplomats and come into the game with a 7-9 record and 66 points. However, Rochester is luckier than Washington. Since the Lancers are in the weak Northern Division, they are just 12 points behind first-placed St. Louis.
The leader for the Lancers is Mike Stojanovic, tied for third in the league scoring race with 10 goals and five assists for 25 points. He represents the big scoring threat the Diplomats do not have. Washington's leading scorer is Stokes, who has four goals and two assists for a total of 10 points.
The two clubs met earlier in the season in Rochester and the Lancers emerged in the season in Rochester and the Lancers emerged with an extremely rough 2-1 victory. That game marked the beginning of the eight game slice that has ruined the Dips' season.