As he sat outside his locker room yesterday afternoon, Washington Diplomat coach Gordon Bradley looked more relieved than excited.
He had just watched his new team win its second indoor soccer match in less than 24 hours, an 8-5 victory over the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in front of 2,163 fans at the D.C. Armory. Clearly, the victory wasn't uppermost on his mind.
"What do you want to talk about?" he asked reporters. "You want to talk about the game? I thought we were a fitter team than they were. We've been practicing twice a week and it showed."
Then he jumped to the subject of injuries. "You're so much more susceptible to injuries indoors," he said, shaking his head. "I was very upset when I heard Gordon Banks (star Striker goalkeeper) was going to play today. A player of his stature shouldn't be exposed to this sort of thing. He could get killed."
Banks, the 38-year-old wonder who led the Strikers to the North American Soccer League's best record last summer, was exposed for only one period.
During that time he surrendered goals to Gene Mishalow, on a 15-yard blast from the left side, and Randy Garber, who put his own rebound past the diving Banks.
That gave the Dips a 2-0 margin after 14 minutes, and the Strikers never caught up. The visitors, beaten 9-2 Saturday night, showed a little more fight yesterday, closing a 2-1 in the last minute of the first period on a rebound shot by Alan Hamlyn.
But newly arrived Denny Denkowski got the only goal of the second period to make it 3-1. Then Garber finished his hat trick with two goals in the first 1:06 of the third to make it 5-1, and it was all over.
"I'm pleased we won. Some of the young players did quite well I thought," Bradley said. But he added quickly, "You really can't learn a thing indoors.A player can look very good inside and not be a good player outdoors. The real game is still outdoors."
Indoors, the Dips drew a total of 4,547 fans for the two days, less than the one-game figure of 5,000 that general manager John Carbray had set as a break-even mark. But Carbray, who would not reveal how many of the fans were paying to get in, was undaunted.
"I'll tell you this, we gave away a lot less tickets indoors than we did outdoors," he said. "I think the important thing is that people will come back because they were excited. I think the thing will grow."
The Dips will not play again until the last weekend in January when Tampa Bay comes to town for two games. Bradley will leave for Europe Tuesday in search of players to help him try to improve the 1977 team's 10-16 outdoor record.