The defensive code in the sports world reads: "A team can't score without the ball."
The Washington Diplomats have a different version, which reads: "The other team won't score even if it has the ball."
At least, the Dips have lived up to that credo the first two games of the season. Goalkeeper Bill Irwin, sweeperback or anchorman Jim Steele and backs Mike Dillon, Tommy O'Hara and Roy Wilner have formed an impgrenable defensive wall.
"Communication," said Wilner, "is the key." Wilner and Steele are the two returning starting defenders from last year. "We talk a lot back there and cover for one another."
The Dips shoot for the club record of three straight blankings tomorrow against the Ford Lauderdale Strikers at RFK Stadium.
Washington was a bid generous in the Philadelphia opener, allowing in the Philadelphia Fury 14 shots on goal. The Dips took only 10 shots but came away with a 3-0 victory.
Washington's tenacity on defense was such that most of the Fury's shots were from long range and only one was dangerous.
In last Sunday's 1-0 win over the Chicago Sting, Washington was even more impressive. It yielded only nine shots, three in the second half, to post its second straight shutout.
"The defense is doing an excellent job. They never let up," said Dip Coach Gordon Bradley.
The early success of the defense is surprising because Bradley concentrated his preseason efforts on obtaining sound offensive players.
The Dips scored only 30 goals in 1977, and an overworked defensive unit surrendered 48 goals.
Irwin, a 6-foot-3 former second-division player from England, replaced Eric Martin (broken leg during indoor season) in the net and has been outstanding. In addition to his 10 saves and countless cutoffs, he has consistently kicked the ball 50 and 60 yards downfield to keep presure on opposing teams.
Wilner, one of two original Dips (Gary Darrell is the other) has improved steadily. He is now usually assigned the oponent's top forward. Against the Sting, Wilner held Robert Gadocha, a former member of the Polish World Cup team, to one shot.
His teammates spend most of Sunday's postseason celebration praising Wilner's efforts.
"You can have world class players but they're only as good as the defenders let them be," said Irwin. "Roy did the job on him."
Washington and The Cosmos, tied for the National Conference Eastern Division lead (2-0 and 16 points), are the only teams in the NASL with two shutouts.
Another reason the defense has improved is additional help from the midfielders and, of all things, from the forwards.
Last season, the Washington forwards seldom dropped back on defense. Not so this year.
Paul Cannell, one of the more aggressive offensive players, was so intent Sunday on preventing a Sting player from reaching a ball, he was slapped with a foul and a yellow card (caution).