Coach Gordon Bradley gave The Washington Diplomats a day off yesterday in an effort to let the players recover from bumps and bruises incurred in Saturday's 2-0 win over Colorado.
The Dips (6-1) will take the second-best record in the North American Soccer League into Saturday's 8 p.m. RFK Stadium contest with the Tulsa Roughnecks.
"We've got Tommy O'Hara, Paul Cannell, Jim Steele and Alex Pringle still sore," Bradley said after meeting with some of his players yesterday. Of course Paul's been playing injured for the last four games.
Cannell, the team's leading scorer with five goals, suffered a hip pointer against Chicago in April and bruised his shinbone Saturday. He did not practice Monday but should be ready by Saturday, according to Bradley.
"I think Paul will play, he's been very good about playing hurt," Bradley said. "We've been lucky so far that the road injuries have been to the wingers because we have depth there. I don't really have a striker behind Paul."
Starting wingers Mike Bakio and Ray Graydon have missed games with injuries but have hardly been missed, thanks to excellent play by South Africans Andries Maseko and Kenneth Mokgojoa.
And when starting sweeper Steele twisted an ankle before the Minnesota game, Pringle stepped in and performed admirably.
Now it is Pringle, hobbled with a badly sprained toe, who is causing Bradley some concern because O'Hara sat out Monday's practice with a bruised cheekbone, Steele is still hobbling on his ankle and Mike Dillon, who sat ou the Colorado game because of a league suspension, has not been officially ruled eligible for Saturday.
"I'm hoping everyone will be ready," Bradley said. "The league could rule that Mike has to sit out another game but I don't think they will. The incident (Dillion cursing the referee following the loss in Dallas) is behind him.
"Tommy's very sore but I expect him to be ready. Steele played hurt on Saturday and would do it again if necessary."
Bradley is still looking for a striker to back up Cannell and for another midfielder.
He is also concerned about the goalkeeping situation believing a team should carry three. Steve Radispiel, a 21-year-old Brigdeport University graduate, is training with the team and probably will be signed if Bradley likes what he sees.
"You can never be too deep," Bradley said. Thus far, the Dips have been deep enough and Bradley is taking his time looking for backups.