There was good news and bad news for the Washington Diplomats tonight. The good news was that for the first time in four years the Dips scored in Ownby Stadium, home of the Dallas Tornado.
The bad news: It wasn't enough.
Facing a fast-moving, revitalized Dallas assault, the high scoring Diplomats fell to the Willie Lippens-led Tornado, 2-1, after having pulled into a tie 60 minutes into the game. Trailing, 1-0, at intermission. Washington withstood an early second-half offensive barrage from the Tornado and got on the scoreboard when scoring leader Alan Green, luckless through the first 45 minutes period, took a pass from Paul Cannell after Joe Horvath's throw-in and powered a goal into dead center past a badly beaten Dallas goalkeeper Alex Stepney.
Then, with the game 82:30 old, Dallas's aggressive left wing Lippens put the issue to rest. Following a midfield steal by teammate Wolfgang Raush and assists from George Ley and Jim Ryan. Lippens fired in his second goal of the night as the partisan crowd of 8,279 roared its approval. It was the first loss for the Diplomats after five straight wins.
The Dips, the highest scoring team in the NASL, came out on the attack but ran into a dramatically changed Tornado defense, which took control of the contest early and allowed Washington only a couple of serious threats in its six first-half shots on goal. The Dips high point came with 37:12 showing on the scoreboard as striker Alan Green's shot from the right side of the goal was ever so slightly wide.
And while the Dips' offense was finding it hard to locate openings it the scrambling Tornado defense, the Dallas attack, nonexistent a week ago against Toronto, applied constant pressure.
It paid off at 24:50 when winger Willie Lappens, assisted by Fleming Lund, in a Dallas uniform for the first time this season, and midfielder Wolfgand Resuch, boomed the ball at point-blank range past Diplomat goalkeeper Bill Irwin.
The lone goal of the first half was only the third time this season the Dips have been scored on in the first 45 minutes of play and was the third time this year they have trailed at intermission.
Washington midfielder Mike Dillion looked as if he might send the contest into a halftime tie with seven minutes remaining as he was presented a golden opportunity following a free kick from the corner. But Tornado goalkeeper Alex Stepney made an outstanding save to guard the host's lead.
The Dips had one more shot on goal than Dallas in the first half.