Already hurting because of injuries to the defense, the Washington Diplomats must play the Tulsa Roughnecks on the road tonight (8:30 p.m. WTTG-TV-5) without Alan Green, their leading scorer last season.
Green, who scored two goals against Tampa last week in the Dips' season-opener, sprained his left ankle during practice Thursday afternoon and did not accompany the team west to Tulsa yesterday.
"It was right at the end of practice. He just fell and caught his ankle under the weight of his leg," said Andy Dolich, the Diplomats' general manager. "There was some swelling. It doesn't look to be really serious. We hope he'll be available next week against Philadelphia.
"Of course it's a key loss for us, and with the injuries we've had on defense, we really can't afford to lose anybody. It's tough to win on the road anyway, and now it's tougher."
Ken Modgojow will take Green's place and, along with Bobby Stokes, will start at the wings. Juan Jose Lozano, Johan Cruyff and Wil Hansen, all of whom suffered leg injuries of some sort last week, and Sonny Askew are the midfielders in Coach Gordon Bradley's 4-4-2 alignment.
The Dips (0-1), who hold a 5-1 advantage against the Tulsa (1-0) franchise -- including games against predecesors San Antonia and Team Hawaii -- are not looking forward to playing on the slick AstroTurf surface at Skelly Stadium.
The artificial turf is extremely hard and bumpy. In addition, several of the new Washington acquisitions have never played on AstroTurf before, although the team practiced on that surface this week.
"My three midfielders will play. Their injuries were not that serious," said Bradley. "But I'm worried about the field. It's terrible. It's tight, narrow and it will be tought to win there.
"Fancy passing might not be enough. You don't always win by playing good soccer."
The Central Division Roughnecks were 14-16 in the regular season last year and advanced to the National Conference semifinals before bowing to the Cosmos in a minigame, 3-1.
"They are much improved this year," Bradley said of the Roughnecks. "They got off to a good result, beating Houston (1-0) in Houston. This is their home opener, and they will be looking to stop Cruyff. They'll have a good crowd and will be up for us."
Billy Caskey, who scored the game-winner last week, and Steve Earle are the players to watch up front. Wily veteran Alan Woodward runs the defense and tough Gene DuChateau is in goal.
Tulsa undoubtedly will apply consistent pressure to the Dips midfield, especially since the field is narrow and the Washington Big Three -- Lozano, Cruyff and Jansen -- are not 100 percent. Jansen is nursing a groin pull, Cruyff took a knock on the knee, and Lozano has a slightly sprained ankle.
Gary Darrell, Carmine Marcantonio, reliable Bobby Iarusci and Tommy O'Hara make up the back and Bill Irwin is the goalkeeper.
Bradley insists he isn't worried about his defense.
"Last week our defense played quite well," he said. "The first Tampa goal was an accident. Gary went back to clear it and Billy bumped him.Billy accepted the blame because he didn't call out. This type of errors won't happen too often."