Even though they had a week off since their 4-2 loss to the Los Angeles Aztecs, the Washington Diplomats may be tired soccer team when they face the San Jose Earthquakes at RFK Stadium tonight at 8 p.m. (WTTG-TV-5).
Dips have spent the last week arting as counselors at Camp Gityurkikis, the soccer camp sponsored and run by the Diplomat organization. This has meant four hours of work in the morning with the youths, and practice in the afternoon, tough schedule.
"We've taken it easy this week because of the camp." coach Alan Spavin said. "We've just done a lot of short, sharp work. I don't expect us to be tired because we've cut back on practice to keep fresh. I wouldn've liked to have worked more, though."
Tired of not, the Dips should have little trouble getting up for the Earthquakes. The two teams met in San Jose May 23, a game the Dips won, 1-0.
There were numerous rough tackles, three players had to leave the game with injuries, and Washington defender Roy Willner and Earthquake Johnny Rowlands were ejected from the game after they took turns decking each other.
The Earthquakes are fighting for a playoff berth in the Southern Division of the North American Soccer League while the Dips are struggling to remain in contention for an Eastern Division playoff spot.
San Jose comes into the game with a 10-11 record and 87 points, one point behind third-place Las Vegas in the fight for the final playoff spot. The Quicksilvers also have a game in hand. The Dips, in the meantime, are 8-11 with 69 points - 35 points or four full games behind Tampa Bay for third place in the East.
"I imagine both teams will be very psyched," Spavin said. "San Jose is John's old team (Dip general manager Carbray) and this will be the first time back in Washington for Dilly (former Dip Leroy DeLeon) since the trade. And the last game was extremely competitive."
Since Spavin took over as coach from Dennis Viollet on June 29, Washington has split four games. However, the team has scored a total of six goals in those contests, a relatively modest figure but a definite improvement on the five goals scored in Viollet's final seven games.
With seven games left in the season and the Dips all but eliminated from the playoffs, Carbray and Spavin will be looking very hard at several marginal players. And Carbray will have to decide soon after the season's end whether or not to bring Spavin back as coach.
"There are going to be some playerswho won't be asked back," Spavin said. "We want to make a decision on them soon because there's no sense giving them a lot of playing time if they won't be with us next year."
San Jose, like the Dips, has been having trouble scoring, despite the presence of the NASL's all-time leading scorer. Ilija Mitic, and fourth-leading scorer 28 goals in 21 games, the Dips 21 in 19.
The game will be preceded at 6 p.m. by a "soccer circus" in the various parking lots around the stadium. There will be rides for children, skateboard and motorcycle demonstrations, tailgate competitions and a number of roaming bands.