Although his team is coming off its best half of soccer this season, Coach Gordon Bradley is still concerned because of the Diplomats' inability to play up to their potential.
Yesterday he listed his major worries as:
The growing list of injuries to key players.
Letdown on defense.
Inconsistency on offense.
Poor play on the road.
The Dips, 3-3, started slowly at RFK Stadium Sunday before playing an excellent second half to dump the California Surf, 3-1. They outshot the visitors, 29-9, and were very smooth on offense in the last 45 minutes. On defense the Dips surrendered what Bradley called "another bad goal."
"I saw a little improvement out there Sunday but we can still improve," said Bradley. "Defensively, we gave up another goal. But Don Droege was playing his first game in the back. Carmine Marcantonio had to be switched from defense to midfield because of our injuries.
"We just don't have a lot of people right now. It's good we have so many versatile players who can move about. And you can use only three substitutes and you have to keep the three American citizens on the field," Bradley continued. "The most thing that could have happened to us was that we didn't lose anyone else."
The Washington midfield is hurting. Wim Jansen, Joe Horvath and Sakib Viteskic all have leg injuries and will probably miss Sunday's home game against Portland. Sonny Askew has been playing on a badly bruised toe while Johan Cruyff has taken a number of hard knocks.
Juan Jose Lozano, who had missed the last four games because of a hurt foot, wasn't fit but turned in a gutsy performance nevertheless and scored his first NASL goal.
"It's good to get him back. It took a while for him to fit in but he did well," said Bradley. "If he doesn't have any recurrence of his injury this week in practice, I expect him to play this week."
Bradley said goalkeeper Bill Irwin has not been sharp and may have lost a bit of confidence but has also been playing with an assortment of nagging head and shoulder injuries.
Bradley is more concerned with the play of his offense. In Washington's first five games, bad passes, bad shots, failure to communicate in the midfield and basic breakdowns of set plays were commonplace. In two of the three losses on the road, the Dips were particularly woeful offensively.
"I think we've accepted things on the road instead of going out and being aggressive," said Bradley. "In the second half, we were much more positive on offense, ran more and created things up front.
"Everyone was in the offense. We made a couple of tactical adjustments in the second half and the lads went out and worked for the win," Bradley said. "In all of our wins at home, I felt we deserved to win. We just have to keep this momentum going. We'd like to be 4-3 before we go on the road again."
Following Washington's game against Portland, it plays in Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta. Washington the returns home to face the powerful Cosmos.
With all the problems at hand, Washington is hoping for a win at home Sunday and a split of the two away games before facing the Cosmos.
"We can't keep losing on the road and winning at home," said Dip forward Bobby Stokes. "We have been playing like two different teams."
"I think it's just a matter of getting everyone healthy," Bradley said.
Washington cannot afford another injury on the front line. Only Green, Stokes and Ken Mokgojoa are healthy. Reserve forward Tony Crescitelli is out with a bruised thigh and Steve Byrd is young and inexperienced.