Washington Diplomat Coach Gordon Bradley said yesterday he will reevaluate his entire lineup in the wake of Sunday's 4-2 upset by Portland and is considering making a change in goal.
"We just haven't clicked as a team yet," Bradley said. "We don't have the cohesiveness on the field or off it that we've had the last two years. At this point I've got to consider those changes."
Most prominent among the possible changes would be a switch in goal with Dragan Radovich, who never has started an NASL game, replacing three-year starter Bill Irwin for Saturday night's game in Fort Lauderdale.
"I certainly won't make a decision until later in the week until I've watched them practice," said Bradley, who gave his team yesterday off. "But Billy's suffering from a loss of confidence right now. We all know he's a better goalie than he's shown so far. But I may decide to give Dragan a chance."
Radovich, 23, played 25 minutes in one game last season and 11 minutes in Toronto this season. He has, according to Bradley, shown marked improvement this spring under the tutelage of former goalie Eric Martin.
Bradley also said he would like to get Joe Horvath, who has missed the last two games with a knee injury, back in the lineup this week. If Horvath returns, Juan Jose Lozano, who cost Madison Square Garden Corp. $800,000 may find himself on the bench.
If the Diplomats have one major problem that is preventing them from jelling into the outstanding team they are supposed to be, it appears to be this: no one in the organization, including Bradley, seems able to agree on what the team's problem is.
Superstar Johan Cruyff is upset with the midfield alignment, believing the team needs another defensive midfielder for balance.
Some other members of the team believe that the presence of Cruyff has been disruptive, that his basic philosophical disagreement with Bradley over how the team should line up has divided the players and affected their performances. Cruyff has yet to score a goal. Neither has striker Bobby Stokes.
Garden officials Sonny Werblin and Jack Krumpe, who believe they have provided Bradley with the players necessary to mold a contender, are frustrated but unsure about what to do.
Bradley sums up the sitaution: "You can't point at any one thing or any one area. It's our overall game."
Facing a tough game Saturday in Fort Lauderdale followed by another in Atlanta and a return home to face the Cosmos, the Diplomats must shake off their problems quickly or face the gloomy possibility of not being contenders in any way for the National Conference East championship.They already trail the Cosmos by 21 points with the season less than a quarter over.
Yesterday, club officals from the Garden hierarchy on down were refusing to talk about changes, refusing to do anything except search for the more elusive brighter side of the picture.
"We're concerned but we're not going to panic," team President Steve Danzansky said. "We're not playing as well as we would like, as well as we are able or as well as we will, I promise you that.
"You don't just go out and buy a winner in sports. It takes time to put things together. Every guy on this team has been a winner somewhere, so they all know what it's about and what it takes.
"The time has come to get around to the nitty-gritty of being professionals and giving 150 percent. Anybody who can't live with that isn't going to be around very long."
Club officials most notably Werblin were distressed two weeks ago when Cruyff and forwards Alan Green and Stokes exchanged verbal gibes in the newspaper.
Werblin and Krumpe were displeased by the team's lackadaisacal performances in road losses in Tulsa and Toronto and were upset by Sunday's loss. But Krumpe wouldn't discuss the situation or the apparent Bradley-Cruyff rift yesterday beyond sayind, "We're concerned, because we want this team to be a winner."
The club has been playing like anything but a winner. It has the kind of in-house squabbing characteristic of most losing teams and everyone in the organization knows that Bradley and Cruyff must solve their differences if the record is to improve. And, Cruyff must score.