Although his Washington Diplomats captured the final game of a three game trip, Coach Gordon Bardley can't forget the two that got away.
"we should have beaten Toronto (Dips lost, 2-0) and we played well enough to defeat Tampa Bay (Dips lost, 1-0)," said Bradley, appraising the Dips' trip. "Against Detroit (Wednesday night) we play poorly and come away with a (2-1) win. How can you explain that?"
The come-from-behind, tie-breaker shootout triumph gave Washington a 10-5 mark at the halfway point of the NASL season. Washington earned eight points fo a local for a total of 89 this year, 18 fewer than the Eastern Division leading Cosmos (12-2*.
I'm happy with our record," Bradley said. "Had we lost to Detroit, the pressure would have been on us to win all three of our next (home) games before we hit the road again. We needed this victory."
Washington, which entertains the Rochester Lancers Sunday at RFK Stadium, has been struggling offensively. Bradley and several of his players agree the lack of consistency is caused by the absent of injured starters Alan Green and Joe Horvath, the team's top two scorers, and team leader Jim steele.
t"It's no secret we miss those players," said Bradley.
Washington was ragged on both offense and defense against Detroit, but managed to hold the Express to one goal. Ken Mokgojoa's 10-footer sent the game into overtime. The Dips eventually won the tie-breaker shoot out, 3-1, to escape with a 2-1 victory.
"We pulled that one from the depths." said defender Tommy O'hara. "It was a crucial game for us at this point. You lose the first two on a road trip and you begin to feel a little pressure. It becomes a struggled. We had to get some points out of this one."
Washington enters the second half of the season with five starters and top reserves hobbled with injuries. Horvath may return for the Philadelphia game June 24 but Green, Steele, Gary Darrell and Mike Bakic are still out indefinitely.
Bradley is hopeful reserves Rene Breevort, Tony Crescitelli, are Mihailovich and Mokgojoa will continue to play well and keep the Dips in contention until the regulars return.
"It would have been a great road trip had we won two of the three." Bradley said, "but we played three good teams. I've got to be satisfied with winning this one and going home."