Washington Diplomat midfielder Johan Cruyff, whom Coach Gordan Bradley said played his best game in the loss to Fort Lauderdale last week, suffered a leg sprain in practice and is listed as doubtful for tonight's NASL game in Atlanta.
"This is a very untimely injury," said Bradley. "We played very well despite the loss and the team looked much more together. They worked well together and for the first time this year played two good halves. I'm disappointed about Johan's injury but that's part of the game. It's possible he could play. We'll just have to wait and see."
If Cruff, who still is looking for his first goal (he has four assists), is unable to play, Bradley will start Juan Jose Jozano, who also had his best game of the year last week, in the midfield with joe Horvath, Wim Jansen and Carmine Marcantonio. Bradley was considering benching slumping Bobby Stokes and starting Lozano up front, with Cruyff running the show in the middle. But with Cruyff out, Stokes will probably start at striker alongside Alan Green.
Cruyff is not the only Washington player hurting. Key reserves Kenny Mokgojoa, a winger, and midfielder Sonny Askew are also limping and did not make the trip to Atlanta.
"We don't have many healthy people right now up front," said Bradley. "Kenny is out with a leg strain and Sonny, who has been hobbling on a bad toe, injured his other toe in practice yesterday. Tony Crescitelli is also suffering from a bruised thigh and can't play. I had to activate Danny Molendyk."
Although having dropped three of its last four games, Washington may not need Cruyff against the lowly Chiefs. The second-year franchise is in the midst of a club record six-game losing streak, and is 2-7.
Chief Coach Dan Wood shook up his lineup last week prior to Atlanta's game in Philadelphia.
Atlanta's 4-4-2 alignment, the same as used by the Dips, didn't produce any better results as the Chiefs lost, 2-0.
Atlanta has two scoring threats in strikers Keith Furphy and Jeff Bourne. Since joining the Chiefs early in the season from Detroit, Furphy has tallied two goals. Bourne pulled off a hat trick against Memphis four games ago but hasn't scored since. He still leads the team in scoring with four goals and three assists.
Atlanta, which has surrendered 18 goals -- only one team has given up more -- will change goalies. Rookie Lou Cioffi, a free agent from Central Fllrida, will make his NASL debut. Cioffi was released during Atlanta's training camp in February but was recalled recently. Cioffi will replace Victor Nogueira.
Washington goalie Bill Irwin, who had been a bit shaky early in the season, appears to have regained the form that put him among the top keepers in the league last year. He made several brilliant plays against the Strikers and was credited with six saves. Irwin has 38 saves while giving up 15 goals.
"I have no complaints about anything else," said Bradley. "Except for the few injuries, everything is okay. Billy played well and Lozano was great last week. We're on the right track and we want to stay there. We can't worry about how poor Atlanta has been playing. We have to take care of ourselves."
Green is the Dip's leading scorer with 15 points -- seven goals and one assist . . . Defender Robert Iarusci will make his 100th NASL career appearance when he takes the field against Atlanta . . . Terry Hansen, the Chiefs' vice president, is the former public relations director and assistant general manager for Washington.