Two agonizing losing streaks continued for the Washington Diplomats yesterday, with three more players going down because of injuries and the soccer club going down to its third straight one-goal loss.
Midfielder Henry VanDerven of the Netherlands and forward David Proctor, who had just joined the Dips because of injuries to other players, had to leave yesterday's 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Kicks with ankle injuries. And Ken Mokgojoa had to leave when his ankle was retwisted, increasing to nine the number of injuries taking Dips out of games in the last two weeks.
But more important was the loss, fourth in five games for Washington, because it left the Diplomats in second place in the National Conference Eastern Division of the North American Soccer League, six points behind the Cosmos. The Cosmos had taken first place Sunday.
VanDerven's injury, the result of a tackle from behind by Minnesota's Tim Twellman, contributed indirectly to the winning goal scored by Alan Willey, who tied the Cosmos' Georgio Chinaglia for the league goal-scoring lead at 13. VanDerven was replaced by Carmen Marcantonio, who fouled Minnestota's Ace Ntsoelengoe to set up the winner with 11:36 left in the game. Marcantonio also had been beaten on Willey's game-tying score.
On a free following the foul to Ntsoelengoe, Minnesota's Willie Morgan passed to Willey, who drove into an open space between Washington defenders and headed the ball into the net near the left corner.
"Mike Dillion (Dip defender) let Willey get away," said Washington Coach Gordon Bradley, "Willey was all alone. Dillon was supposed to be marking him. If Dillon stays with him, he has a 50-50 chance of stopping the shot."
Just before the free kick from left of the goal, Morgan saw the open space and signaled Willey.
"Dillion was with Willey, but on the other side," said Morgan. "I held up my hand. Willey started running as I kicked the ball. He just barely got to it with his head."
Bradley said he did not know the seriousness of the injuries of Vanderven, Proctor and Mokgojoa.
"I had to take Mokgojoa out at the half," he said, "and that hurt us. He had been getting behind Minnesota's defender (Steve Litt) all through the first half, and had several chances to score.
"VanDerven might be ready for the next game. He had joined us in time to play 10 minutes of the last game, and Proctor had joined us to replace Paul Cannell. This is what happens when we play three games a week. A club that has a run of injuries really gets hurt. It's too many games, but there is no sense moaning. It's the same for everybody."
Bradley felt the Dips played well in taking 1-0 and 2-1 leads against the Kicks, who had won eight of their last nine games and now lead the National Conference Central Division.
"They took it to us, because we were on the road," he said. "We dropped Bobby Stokes back as a fifth defender when they had the ball, so we were playing it conservative."
Washington took the lead on a well-played corner kick with only 4:13 gone in the game.Ray Graydon, who leads the Dips with seven assists, kicked the ball to Killon, lined up with the near goal post. Dillon headed it back to Procutor, who was along near the rear post, and Proctor headed the ball untouched into the net.
Minnesota tied it, 1-1, on a long pass from Alan Merrick at midfield to Minnesota's Charley George, who outran Washington defender Alex Pringle to the ball and scored from about 10 yards.