Last week, Washington Diplomat President Steve Danzansky and Coach Gordon Bradley spent several days in Brazil searching for players. After returning and watching the Dips - playing as many as four reserves - man-handle the Tulsa Roughnecks, 4-0, Saturday night at RFK Stadium, Danzansky and Bradley may feel they wasted the trip.
In rolling to a seventh win in eight games, Washington dominated the second half both offensively and defensively. Leading at intermission, 1-0, the Dips tied a club record by scoring three times in the second half.
The defense, missing suspended centerback Mike Dillon and injured left back Tommy O'Hara, played exceptionally well in recording its fifth shutout of the year, tying another club record.
"You have to give them credit. I was a little concerned that the back four wouldn't put it together quick enough," said Bradley. "I told the lads to be cautious in the first half until they got the feel of things. We didn't play that well the previous week against Colorado although we won (2-0). So I was concerned.
'And no, we didn't sign any new players," said Bradley when asked about the trip. "As long as we play like this, there's no reason to panic yet."
Bradley was pleased with the play of his reserves, particularly defender Randy Garber and midfielder Gary Darrell, both of whom made their season debuts.
A former All-American for Penn State and four-year NASL veteran, Garber had played sparingly his first three seasons at Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, and last year in Washington.
"It felt good to play. I had no idea I would start because I'm a right back, usually. It took a little time for me to adjust," said Garber. "Once I got a little touch of the ball I was okay."
Garber took Roughneck striker Ninoslav Zec completely out of the game. The Yogoslavian native was injured and left the game early in the second half; meanwhile, Garber had not allowed him a shot on goal.
Darell, Washington's leading all-time scorer with 47 points, three more than Paul Cannell, deviated from the norm slightly by going in on defense. He replaced another reserve, Alex Pringle, at center back.
The 31-year-old Darrell teamed with sweeper back Jim Steele to shut down the middle. Darrell also broke away twice and nearly scored.
"Versatility," said Darrell. "Either that or old age, but with Jim back there, it's easy to play defense."
If anyone noticed a difference it would have been goalkeeper Bill Irwin. The league's second-leading effortless day. The defense played so well Irwin was forced to make only two saves and a few knockaways.
"No difference out there at all (with-the reserves starting), said Irwin, who now has 44 saves in eight games.
The offense, somewhat lackadaisical the last two games, scoring only twice, exploded Saturday night.
"If the time had not run out we would have scored several more goals. The offense played well," said Bradley.
Cannell, Ray Graydon, Mike Bakic, Bobby Stokes and midfielder Sakib Viteskic collaborated for four goals, the most a Washington team has scored since the final game of the 1976 season. The Dips had scored four goals or more only eight times in the five-year history of the club.
Cannell earned himself a note in the club history book by typing a record of three assists in one game. He also scored his sixth goal of the season to give him a team high of 16 points.
Bakic, who scored twice against the Roughnecks, now has four goals and two assists for 10 points.
"I told them all year the only people that can beat them are themselves," said Bradley. "And so far they refuse to be beaten."
Washington plays at Fort Lauderdale Wednesday night. The Strikers, still smarting from a 4-1 shellacking at the hands of the Dips, have won three of four games since losing here.