The Diplomats emerged from their gratifying 2-1 triumph over the Portland Timbers Saturday night without recurrence of the injury-ridding that derailed their early-season push.Yet, making their stretch drive for the North American Soccer League play-offs, the Washington booters will still find themselves without the services of a stalwart for their Wednesday night match with the San Diego Sockers at RFK.
Sweeperback Jim Steele directed a strong degensive performance by the Dips against the Timbers, but now must sit down for a one-game suspension he earned by drawing a yellow card in Washington's 4-0 decision over the Los Angeles Aztecs last Tuesday. Steele received the penalty for accumulating 20 infraction points, but the league does not enforce the sanction for five days, so Steele was clear for action against Portland.
Cus Hiddink will move back from the midfield to replace Steele on the back line while Henny Van der Ven, out for a month with an injury, will replace Hiddink as a link.
Steele has missed six games this year because of injuries, including four during the Dips' diastrous six-game losing streak. But he helped stymie the potent Portland attack Saturday as the Washington defense limited the National Conference West Division leaders to 14 shots. The Timbers did not score until less than 12 minutes were left and Washington was safely two goals ahead.
Ray Graydon converted a pass from Tommy O'Hara into a 1-0 Washington lead with 24:32 elapsed in the game. Ken Mokgojoa registered an unassisted tally at 71:18.