Washington Diplomat Coach Gordon Bradley confirmed last night that forward Paul Cannell may make his first start, Sunday against New England, since fracturing his jaw May 15.
Cannell returned to action as a substitute last Saturday, contributing an assist on the Dips' only goal in a 2-1 loss against Dallas. The defeat snapped a five-game Washington winning streak.
"Paul played quite well against Dallas," Bradley said. "I'm not saying he will start against New England, but he's at the point where he'll definitely be considered."
Bradley used only two forwards - Alan Green and Bobby Stokes - and four midfielders against Dallas before inserting Cannell, injured when he collided with teammate Kip Germain in practice May 15.
Should Cannell start Sunday at RFK Stadium, one of the midfielders likely will be sidelined - possibly Joe Horvath, who has been hampered by a slight groin injury.
Washington (8-3) handily defeated New England, 3-1, May 23 on the Tea Men's narrow artificial turf at Boston University's Nickerson Field, but Bradley thinks Sunday's rematch won't be as one-sided.
"I want our players to concentrate very much on this contest, since we have three tough road games right after that. I don't want them to think New England will be an easy on our wider field." he said.
"They've got some players like Jerry Daley who can really spray their passes about on a larger field. If we allow him some freedom, he can destroy us with his penetration."
Bradley praised his defensive alignment of Mike Dillon, Robert Iarusci, Don Droege and Tom O'hara.
"You've got to give them credit for keeping the oppostition out," Bradley said. "At the moment I question whether there's a better back four in the league.
"We've been working a lot harder at moving without the ball," the Dip coach said. "The team's improving because it's learning to blend 11 players together better. We're happy so far."