Two items will be major concern to the Washington Diplomats tonight when they face the Philadephia Fury at 8 o'clock at RFK Stadium: points and penalities.

The Diplomats are entrenched in second place in the National Conference Eastern Division with a 17-point lead over Rochester. But they trail the Western Division runner-up, Vancouver, which has played one fewer game, by 14 points. The second place team with the most points gets the home field advantage in the first round of the league playoffs.

"We now how important it is for us to win our remaining home games at the very least," said Diplomat Coach Gordon Bradley. The team plays four of its last eight games at RFK. "iWht a 17-point margin between ourselves and Rochester, we're got some working room. But we can't let up or the Lancers or Toronto will right down our throats again."

Of even greater concern to Bradley is the team's pencant for penalities. Striker Paul Cannell, the team's leader scorer, will sit out tonight's game - his second in a row - to finish a 10-day suspension. The punishment, for "conduct unbecoming an NASL player," was handed down by league, Commission Phil Woosnam after Canada dropped his pants to protest a call in a May 13 game against Tulsa.

Defenseman Jim Steele will play despite a suspension stemmed from Steele's ejection, his second of the season from the July 1 contest at Tampa Bay. Steele will play against Rochester (July 22) and New England (July 26).

The Fury, a first-year expansion team that includes among its owners rock music stars Peter Frampton, Rick Wakeman of "Yes" and Paul Simon, has been anything but a pleasing melody on the field. Only two teams, Colorado and San Jose, have scored fewer points than the American Conference East cellar-dwellers.

Philadelphia's problem has been a lack of offense. The Fury have been blanked in five of their last seven games, and scored only one goal in each of the other two. They lost six of those games.

The leading scorer for the (7.14) Fury. Tony Glavin, has just four goals. Player-coach Alan Ball, who took over three weeks ago when Coach Richard Dinnis resigned, is the second leading scorer with eight points.

Diplomat forward Ken Mokgojoa, who has six goals in the last six games, will key the Dips' bid for their fourth straight victory at RFK and 13th in 23 games this year.