Despite losing here Saturday night, the Washington Diplomats are off to their best start. Nonetheless, Coach Gordon Bradley is trying to improve the team.
"I want to strengthen the team in depth. We need two more quality players and we're working on getting them," Bradley said.
After five straight victories the Dips were beaten, 2-0, by the Dallas Tornado but that doesn't bother the exuberant Bradley.
"I didn't think we'd be 5-0. It's more than I had hopes for, but we deserved it," Bradley said. "We played better than all of the teams we beat. We didn't play better than Dallas and they beat us, but one loss doesn't make that much of a difference at this point of the season. We're right with New York and that's where we want to be."
After playing well the first five games, the Dips were bound to come out flat sooner or later and it happened sooner Saturday night.
Dallas is a physical, roughhouse team and it pressured Washington all night.
The Dips never had much of an offense and attempted only seven shots, only two in the second half. Neither came close to scoring.
Dallas got both its goals from the North American Soccer League's leading scorer, Jeff Bourne. His first was a 22-yarder past Washington goalkeeper Bill Irwin, less than two minutes into the second half. Bourne's second was on a controversial penalty kick at 77:03.
After the penalty, the Dips' spirits seemed to diminish.
The penalty turned out to be doubly drastic for Washington because Mike Dillon was given a red card for "verbal abuse" after the game and will have to sit out the Dips' next game, Saturday against the Colorado Caribous at RFK Stadium.
Chasing a pass from teammate Kevin Kewley, Kyle Rote, in the opinion of referee Juan Pinto, was fouled by Dillon. Following the game, Pinto gave Dillon the red card after Dillon confronted him.
The Dips agreed that it may have been obstruction by Dillon on Rote, but certainly no more.
"You don't give a free kick on something like that," an angered Irwin said. "My mother could referee better than that."
Rote, robbed by three brilliant Irwin saves, said Dillon had that call coming.
"It was an example of evil turning on itself," Rote said. "I'm a great believer in that. Dillon elbowed Tony Bellinger twice in the back. He got me once from the blind side. The penalty was a marginal call, but evil got its due."
The Dips' biggest offensive weapon, Paul Cannell, was taken out by Steve Pecher. Thirty pounds heavier and three inches taller, Pecher repeatedly knocked Cannell to the shoddy Ownby Field turf and Cannell was looking over his shoulder by game's end.
Cannell was playing with a painful hip pointer, and the Dips also were without sweeper Jim Steele, who sprained his ankle in the 2-1 victory over Tulsa on Thursday night.
Steele will be back Saturday as well Ray Graydon, who has missed the last four games with a calf contusion.
One of the acquisitions the Dips are trying to make is for a back-up striker to Cannell.
The next yellow card Cannell gets will give him more than 20 demerit points and he will have to sit out the following game.