Last season began with considerable promise for the Washington Diplomats but ended on a mediocre note because of midseason injuries.
Suddenly, this year's Diplomats are having flashbacks of last year because of the injury bug, which has taken a big bite out of the club's manpower.
Midfielder Joe Horvath, who suffered slight ligament damage in his left knee in Wednesday night's 2-0 loss in Toronto, and defender Robert Iarusci, who pulled a groin muscle, became the latest Washington players to join an already overcrowded treatment list.
"I said before the game we couldn't afford any more injuries to key players," Coach Gordon Bradley said. "Now we've lost Joe for three to four weeks. I don't know what I'll do right now. He'll be hard to replace."
Iarusci, one of the top defenders in the league, was limping following the game but said he hoped to play in Tampa Bay Saturday night.After that, Washington plays the last of three straight road games in Detroit Wednesday night.
Should Iarusci miss the Tampa game, Bradley will start Ane Mihailovich, recently recovered from a badly sprained ankle.
Unlike last season, Bradley is fortunate to have enough capable reserves to replace injured starters. The problem arising now is the depth of the well.
Washington already has lost captain and midfielder Jim Steele (broken jaw), midfielder Gary Darrell (knee operation), winger Mike Bakic (Achilles' tendon injury) and, only last week, leading scorer Alan Green, who has 21 points, was felled by a groin pull. None of the four is expected to return before July 1.
Other starters who have missed games because of injuries this season include goalkeeper Bill Irwin, defender Tommy O'Hara, midfielder Sakib Viteskic and striker Paul Cannell. Defender Mike Dillon is the only Dip who has played every minute of every game.
In the next two away games, Washington should not face the prospect of another physcial whipping like the one administered by the Blizzard. Both Tampa Bay and Detroit are more finesse teams.
"Toronto was a very physical team," Bradley said. "I'd have to say they intimidated us, too. We would like to win the next two games or at least get some points out of them."
Because of the bad weather at last Sunday's game here against the New England Tea Men, the Dips said those who purchased tickets, whether they attended the game or not, can exchange them as part of a two-for-one sale for the Philadelphia game June 24. Ticket stubs must be presented at the RFK Stadium box office before the day of the game.
The Diplomats' July 11 exhibition date with Bayern Munich in RFK Stadium is off. The Dips cite "a recent change in the management" of the famed West German club, which offered to reschedule at some future date.