Toronto Metro forward Ray Treacy said the Diplomats looked "very disorganized on defense." Washington Coach Gordon Bradley said, "The team was confused at times." Wingers Ray Graydon and Mike Bakic said their "team missed striker Paul Cannell up front."
All three problems led to Washington's 3-0 defeat by the Metros Saturday night at RFK stadium. After its worst showing of the season. Washington has to regroup for the second half of the season. With so many key players injured and interdivisional games coming up, Bradley has to find a way to snap his club out of its slump.
The Dips have lost four in a row and five of six. Now second to the Cosmos, after leading the National Conference's Eastern Division, Washington has to beware surging Rochester and Toronto.
"That game (Saturday) had to be our worst of the year," said defender Roy Willner. "It was a total breakdown by the entire team. We didn't do a good job of marking defensing them at all."
Toronto easily penetrated Washington's usually solid defense, outshooting the Dips, 25-21. Metros striker Brian Budd consistently beat his man, Mike Dillon, and scored two goals and assisted on the other.
"They sent a lot of men on the attack and we couldn't mark each one," said Dillon. "We did a lot of things wrong."
Bradley and several Washington players had pointed to the Toronto game as one the Dips needed to win.
"You have to win your home games: Bradley said before Washington's first loss at RFK. "With so many tough games on the road in such a short span of time, you just can't afford to lose at home. We have so many key players out. I didn't feel I'd lose any of them so long."
When the Dips were healthy they were ripping up the leagues. They jumped to a 7-1 start and were ranked in the top three in the NASL in both offense and defense. But the injuries came and the road games took their toll on a patched-up squad.
Dillon was suspended for 28 days and Cannell, in addition to a shin injury, had to sit out the Toronto game because of 20 demerit points resulting from yellow cards.
Even if he had played, he would have been only 80 percent," said Bradley.
David Proctor, signed as back-up to Cannell, hurt an ankle in the Minnesota game last week but played against the Metros. With 10 minutes gone, Proctor pulled a hamstring and will be lost indefinitely.
"I needed depth at midfield and I got Henny Van der Ven," said Bradley "What happens, he gets injured in his first game (Vancouver). I get Proctor and he gets injured twice," said Bradley. "I'm working on my third striker."
Washington has 10 players, five of them starters, injured. And Bradley has little idea who will play in Houston Wednesday night.
Washington hosts Vancouver Saturday night before hitting the road again to play New England and the Cosmos.
Even Treacy was surprised at Washington's poor effort. "They have to be a better club than they showed against us," he said. "The defense looked like it had no idea what it was doing. I think they'll bounce back."