Even though he had just watched his team lose, 3-1, to the Washington Diplomats, Seattle Sounders Coach Jim Garbriel smiled yesterday as he stood in the RFK Stadium locker room.
"First thing I did was thank our players for a great effort," he said. "That was an excellent soccer team we played out there today."
The Dips put on a show in he stifling humidity. The 9,463 fans cheered giddily as the club poured in on Seattle goalkeeper Mike Ivanow almost the entire 90 minutes.
Paul Cannell, with two goals, and Sonny Askew, with a goal and two assissts, provided much of the offense. But little Alan Green assisted on the first two goals and took 13 of his team's 34 shots.
The teams combined for an RFK Stadium-record 58 shots.
"I'm very frustrated," Green said. "I could have scored three goals easily. I had so many chances. I didn't do anything special, the whole team just played very well."
The Dips' overpowering performance raised their record to 15-7, good for 133 points, only 13 points behind the National Conference East-leading Cosmos (146) who lost, 4-2, last night at home to the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Dips' next opponent here Wednesday. Seattle, now 10-12 for 94 points, is third in the National West.
In spite of Green's frustration, both coaches agreed that he was the dominant man for Washington. "He was the best player on the field; no question about it," said Dip Coach Gordon Bradley. "He was all over the field. Seattle's defense couldn't rest. He and Paul (Cannell) were both buzzing from the start."
Gabriel agreed: "He was their best player. Every time he got the ball, we couldn't handle him."
Seattle, after playing well the first five minutes, had trouble handling most of the Washington players the rest of the afternoon.
The first Dip goal was a classic. Askew charged down midfield and slid a perfect pass to Green cutting into the left corner of the box. Green faked a shot, then hit Cannell, who was running right at Ivanow, Cannell jumped, twisted his right foot to reach the ball and tapped it past Ivanow into the corner at 9:45.
"I still don't know how he reached that ball," a bewildered Ivanow said. "I thought it was past him, then I looked up and it was past me."
Bradley attributed the Diplomat success, at least in part, to an offensive adjustment he made prior to the game. He moved Bobby Stokes from midfield to a position between the midfielders and strikers Green and Cannell.
The move opened up the midfield and the Washington midfielders, particularly Askew, took advantage of the running room.
"Sonny must have run 3,000 miles out there today," Bradley said. "I thought his vision was better today than it's been all year. He was making his passes at just the right time almost every run downfield."
The Askew-Green combination got Washington its second goal. Askew ran the ball down the right side and fed Green in the box. Green eluded one defender and blasted a shot at Ivanow. Ivanow made a diving block, but deflected the ball to Askew, who easily put his fourth goal of the year behind the fallen goalie at 30:32 for a 2-0 lead.
"In the beginning of the game I thought we (the midfielders) should hold onto the ball more to set things up," Askew said. "But Alan and Paul were getting so open we just had to keep feeding them the ball."
Green continued to get open. Ivanow dived to rob him once, and another time Green beat Ivanow but defender Adrian Webster cleared the ball off the line.
The Dips continued pressing in the second half although Seattle, most notably Alan Hudson and Derek Smethurst, began to show life too.
The third Dip goal came on another superb crossing pass by Askew. The 22-year-old Baltimore native drew Ivanow out toward him, then put a perfect pass on Cannell's head. Cannell had an open net for his 10th goal of the season at 60:36.
"I guess we could have had a few more today, couldn't we?" Cannell asked, a characteristic grin on his face. "We decided in the second half to save some for Vancouver."
Seattle's only score came 72 seconds after Cannell's goal. Smethurst took a pass from Ian Bridge and beat goalie Bill Irwin, who had no chance once Smethurst outjumped the Washington defense for the ball.
Both teams continued to press hard in spite of the opressive heat. It was 87 degrees at game time and never cooled off.
"I'm delighted with the whole day," Bradley said. "We pressed well on offense all game, and Rene Breevoort and Carmaine Marcantonio did a good job on Hudson. We wanted nine points (six for the win, three for the goals) and we got nine points." CAPTION: Picture 1, Ane Mihailovich of Dips outmaneuvers John Impey of Sounders and kicks back to teammate. By Lucian Perkins - The Washington Post; Picture 2, Ken Mokgojoa jumps in front of Sounder defender Al Trost and makes chest trap. By Lucian Perkins - The Washington Post