Alan Green burned a tired California Surf defense for two goals in the second half and the Washington Dilomats rolled to a 3-1 come-from-behind triumph in a North American Soccer League match before 13,379 yesterday at RFK Stadium.
Washington, now 3-3, had brought on the wrath of the boo birds in the first half, displaying the type of soccer that should be left on the practice fields and in players' nightmares. One botched pass after another and a big defensive mistake sent the feisty Surf charging ahead, 1-0, on a floater by Craig Allen, at the 33:11 mark of the game.
"We were a bit afraid in the first half," said Dip Coach Gordon Bradley.
We wanted so much to do everything right we made mistakes.We gave away another goal. I think (goalkeeper), Bill Irwin's confidence is down a bit. I just told the lads to go at it in the second half. We threw everyone forward."
At times, it appeared Washington was playing with an unfair man advantage. The red shirts always outnumbered the blue shirts at the Surf end of the field and gradually the visitors' defensive wall began to crumble.
Injuries have wreaked havoc to the Dips' lineup and Bradley, who had to suit up Kip Germain (who has a separated shoulder) to make the required 16 players, had no choice but to start a half-speed Juan Jose Lozano at midfield. Both Wim Jansen and Joe Horvath are limping with leg injuries.
Lozano asked to play and Bradley consented. The move paid off handsomely.
The midfielder from Spain, helped Washington take the momentum after intermission, as did Johan Cruyff, shadowed all game by Dave Huson, and Green.
Taking a pass from Sonny Askew at about the 35-yard line, Lozano zigged and zagged his way upfield past three retreating Surf defenders before he blasted a low bullet past goalie Mike Mahoney to tie the game, 1-1, at 49:58. It was Lozano's first goal of the year.
"He struck it well," said Green. "As he came upfield, we were running, creating spaces."
From that point on, Washington did all the creating. The Surf, now 3-4 and the second-highest goal-scoring team in the league coming into the game (14), was helpless in the final 35 minutes.
Washington, which owned a remarkable 29-9 shot advantage, rocketed one bullet after another at Mahoney, who kept shouting and pointing at his teammates as balls continued flying his way.
"We were sending people through the middle, opening up a lot of spaces on the offense," said Cruyff, who had probably his best overall game of the year.
The Surf frustation clearly showed on Washington's second goal. The Surf, who didn't take a shot in the first 30 minutes of the second half, had stopped a Dip assault and had the ball heading upfield. But Tommy O'Hara stepped in front of three Surf players, stole the ball and began racing the other way.
Cruyff and Green filled the lanes, the way the 76ers might execute a fast break, and O'Hara waited until the last possible moment before shoveling the ball off to Green on his right. Green easily controlled the ball and pushed it into the corner of the net to put Washington ahead, 2-1, at the 78:27 mark.
"It was a misunderstanding by one of their players," said O'Hara, who, along with Nick Mijatovic, played outstanding defense. "I had two options on the play and I faked a pass to Johan and gave it to Alan."
The Surf player-coach, Peter Wall, was incensed at that goal, calling it "a gift."
"We gave it away at the end," said Wall. "Once we're down, 2-1, we had to push everyone forward. When you do that, you're likely to give up another goal."
The Dips, who had a meeting this week to discuss their lack of communication of offense, looked very smooth in the second half. Cruyff, who bore the brunt of several players criticism for not giving 100 percent this week, ran the Dips' attack to perfection. Many of his soft, slick passes were right on the money.
One of Washington's problems on offense was that the forwards had not been getting the ball soon enough to set up plays.
Winger Bobby Stokes, who still is goalless, sent a long pass to an unguarded Green. Green took his time, faked Mahoney back to California, and drilled in his second goal of the game and sixth of the season to put the Dips ahead, 3-1, at 84:23.
"That's the type of ball we need, the early ball," said Green. "We get the ball where we can work. In the second half, we got more early balls. Once we got on top of them, we kept the attack up. We played better this game but we can play a lot better."
Washington closed out the game by taking turns bombing the Surf defense. Askew, Bobby Iarusci, Green and Cruyff all had good opportunities that just missed.
"We should have had at last five goals," said Bradley. "I don't think anyone played badly in the second half."
In the after-game celebration, many of the Dips had blanked out the dismal first half. The Surf managed only five shots on goal but dominated the midfield, forcing the hosts into countless mistakes. Mijatovic, who had made several fine plays in the back, made one mistake and it resulted in a goal. Allen duped the Dip lost sweeperback with an old playground head fake and went around him. Allen then lofted a high pass toward Irwin, who seemed hypnotized by the ball. As the ball sailed into the net, Irwin, who seemed hypnotized by the ball. As the ball sailed into the net, Irwin stood with both hands in the air the way a football referee would signal touchdown.
"It was a luck goal," said O'Hara. "He (Allen) didn't know whether he was shooting or crossing the ball. But that was it for them."