The Washington Diplomats breathed a collective sigh of relief yesterday with the news that Johan Cruyff will be able to play in Sunday's home opener at RFK Stadium against Philadelphia.
Cruyff, the man who is supposed to fill the stadium, limped off the field with, 12 1/2 minutes remaining in the Dips' 2-1 loss at Tulsa Saturday night, their second defeat this season.
But the injury, caused by a collision with Tulsa's Itaj Danaifard, was diagnosed as a not-so-serious "swollen, inflamed foot" and Coach Gordon Bradley said he expectes Cruyff to be in the starting lineup Sunday.
Bradley could not say the same for striker Alan Green, who did not even make the trip to Tulsa because of the ankle badly sprained during practice last Thursday. Green, the Dip's leading scorer last season, has been listed as questionable for Sunday.
"As far as Green is concerned, it's touch and go on his ankle," Bradley said. "There's no break, but it's more serious than we thought. If we had to play today, he couldn't go.
"I know we've been built up to have a good season because of the people we have," Bradley said. "I still feel we will.
"There's no reason to panic, but right now everyone just isn't tuned in. We're better than last year but so are a lot of other teams. We just have to buckle down."
With a half-speed Cruyff and an absent Green, Washington has no punch up front against Tulsa. Ken Mokgojoa, the fastest Dip, has has trouble getting started and was replaced Saturday night by little-used Danny Molendyk, who played in only one game last year.
"I didn't have anyone else, so I had to go to Danny," Bradley said. "Kenneth has been a real disappointment so far. He's been outhusled and knocked off the bail consistently."
A bigger, more aggressive club, Tulsa generally had its own way against the Dips, who managed only 10 shots on goal.
Many of the Washingtonians were complaining about the tight field and the Astro Truf surface at Skelly Stadium before the game, causing Bradley to wonder if his players anticipated losing.
"I told them at halftime lousy fields are part of this league and we have to accept that," Bradley said. "Just like the shootout. The players don't like it, but there's no sense complaining because it's here to stay.
"We can't moan and groan about the conditions of every field. We have to go out and attack it, deal with the situtation. Tulsa has a bad surface, a lousy field, but they also outhustled us all game."
Despite losing the first two games Bardley has been pleased with the play of his revamped defense. The back four of Tommy O'Hara, Bobby Iarusci, Gary Darrell and Carmine Marcantonio, along with goalkeeper Bill Irwin, have done a good job. Marcantonio scored Washington's only goal against Tulsa on a beautiful diving header following Bobby Stoke's corner kick.
But, in addition to Mokgojoa's poor play, the Dips have gotten little from Lozano, the talented midfielder from Spain.
"In Tulsa, we were beaten on a set play," Bradley said. "The only players who played well were Marcantonio and (Wim) Jansen. Irwin also did a good job.
"We still have 30 games left. We'll get it together. We just have to hold on until the injured players return. We have to be more aggressive."