Washington Diplomat Coach Gordon Bradley, who wanted desperately for his club to make a good showing Sunday against the high-flying Cosmos, didn't have to lecture or console players following their 6-1 shellacking.
"The first thing the players said when we came off the field was, "Let's get cracking, we've got another game Tuesday night," Bradley said, forcing a smile.
The Dips, now 9-9 with 81 points, won't have much time to let down mentally since they host the Los Angeles Aztecs tonight at RFK stadium at 8 o'clock.
Neither the players nor Bradley seemed overly concerned over a depressed state after suffering their worst defeat of the year.
"We really wanted to play well against The Cosmos. A 2-1 game wouldn't have been bad but we didn't expect to get beat 6-1," said Bradley. "But that's forgotten now. We have to prepare for Los Angeles. I'm not worried about the lads being down. They'll bounce back."
Despite Bradley's optimism, the loss in Giants Stadium was a letdown for everyone. For openers, it was a home-coming of sorts for Bradley, who coached The Cosmos 6 1/2 years before coming to Washington. The 47,700 fans remembered the man mainly responsible for bringing the incomparable Pele to the United States and the Cosmos and gave him a rousing ovation.
In addition, Bradley's club had just snapped a six-game losing streak Wednesday night in Foxboro with a 2-1 win over the New England Tea Men and was looking forward to making up ground against the division-leading Cosmos.
Tonight's contest against the Aztecs may determine just what route Washington takes the remainder of the season. The Los Angeles game is the first of three straight home games and Bradley said, "we want to win these home games. We need them."
The defense and goalkeeper Bill Irwin were virtually helpless as the shot-happy front line of The Cosmos took 30 shots. In addition to their six goals, Chinaglia missed a penalty kick and The Cosmos botched at least a half-dozen scoring opportunities.
"They kept our backs to the wall. Once they got started, it was hard to stop the flow," said Dips' defender Mike Dillon.
The Washington offense never got a chance to get into the game and striker Paul Cannell, the team's leading scorer, was held to two shots on goal. The Dips managed only 12 shots, with Cus Hiddink scoring the lone goal off an indirect free kick early in the first half.
Washington was outshot, 23-17, by New England in its 2-1 victory. The Dips won the shot battle against Vancouver, 22-13, but lost, 2-1 to the Whitecaps in a shootout.
Washington, 9-9, with 81 points, has been outshot in 12 of its 18 games. The Dips may have trouble controlling the tempo of tonight's game, now that the reborn Aztecs have taken a new look at its defense.
Since Coach Terry Fisher was fired three weeks ago, interim player-coach Tommy Smith, a former defender from Liverpool, England, has emphasized defense. The Aztecs have responded with a 3-0 win over Rochester and a 2-1 triumph over California in its last two games.
Usually one of the top offensive clubs in the NASL, Los Angeles has had problems scoring since trading Steve David, the league's leading scorer last year to Detroit. The National Conference Western Division cellar-dwellers, 8-9 with 71 points, have scored only 24 goals, 15th best in the league. They have surrendered only 26 goals, two fewer than Washington.
Los Angeles is led by forward George Best, Garry Jones, who scored both goals in the win over California and midfeilders Wolfgang Sunholz and Bob McAlinden.
Washington, plagued by injuries the last few weeks, is nearly at full strength. Only sweeper Jim Steele (groin), defender Ane Mihailovich (leg contusion and Cannell) hip contusion are hobbling. They are listed as probable for tonight.
Los Angeles boasts one of the best road records in the league, winning five of its seven away games. Washington holds a 2-0 lifetime edge over Los Angeles . . . Ray Graydon, who now has 10 assists, needs one to tie former Dips' player Leroy DeLeon for the club record in that department . . . Washington continued its assault on the personal foul and yellow card records (if the NASL keeps such things). The Dips have committed 352 fouls, 64 more than their opponents. Washington also has drawn 27 yellow cards for overaggressive play.