Ken Mokgojoa wasted little time Saturday night in extending his goal scoring streak to do five straight, a Washington Diplomat record.
Only 3:17 had elapsed before the first-year midfielder from South Africa booted in a five-yarder that started the Diplomats off to a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Fury in a North American Soccer League contest at RFK Stadium.
Mokgojoa had scored 88 goals in two years for the Benoni United team in his home country before signing with the Diplomats last February. The deal has paid off well for Washington. Mokgojoa has scored nine goals and assisted on six others in 21 games this season. He is second to Paul Cannell in team scoring.
Cannell sat out the final game of his two-game suspension Saturday night. Defenseman Jim Steele was playing his last home game until Aug. 2 against the Cosmos. He must sit out the next two Rochester and New England at RFK because he drew his second ejection (red card) of the season against Tampa Bay, July 1.
Diplomat Coach Gordon Bradley credited the defensive play of Steele on former English star Peter Osgood as a determining factor in the team's second victory over the Fury this season.
"We knew that Osgood was a dangerous man, especially on high passes to him in scoring range," commented Bradley. "Steele's play helped pull the team together, particularly in the second half. He's a winner."
The Dips were tested in the final 45 minutes after leading, 2-0 at intermission. The second goal had resulted from a slip by Fury right back Brooks Cryder that knocked the ball away from Diplomat left back Tommy O'Hara and into the Fury goal at 19:16.
Three minutes into the second half, Fury left wing Colin McCurdy took a pass from Osgood and kicked a two-yarder to make 2-1.
"In the first half they are hestitant to bring the game to us," Bradley assessed. "But when they got two goals down they started throwing players forward, putting the pressure on us. We were forced to play more conservatively in the second half."
Following the Fury goal, the Dips held on to win their fourth straight at home behind the wide-ranging, ball-hawking play of goalie Bill Irwin and Steele's pressure on the ball.
Stephen Danzansky, Diplomat president, announced before the game, that the Diplomats had entered into an agreement with the Fluminense Football Club of Brazil that will provide for the exchange of teaching techniques and players between the two teams. The Fluminense club includes several Brazilian World Cup players.
"This relationship represents a major step forward for the Diplomats organization," Danzansky said. "To be associated with such a revered club as Fluminense is evidence of just how far we've come in our five years."
Bradley was equally happy. "The association is one that will benefit both clubs and it represents another step toward bringing world class soccer players to the Diplomats and helping establish our team as an internationally known and respected club."
The Diplomats also announced they had accepted an invitation to play in the President's Cup Tournament in Seoul, Korea, in September.