The Washington Diplomats were only 37 seconds away from a fifth straight defeat and a 3-8 mark in the North American Soccer League when it happened.
Alan Green scored a miraculous goal to tie Philadelphia in regulation at 1-1 and Robert Iarusci converted a header off a corner kick with three minutes gone in the first overtime period to give the Dips a 2-1 win Wednesday night.
"It's time for us to get some breaks," said Iarusci, who has scored two goals in the last two games. "We have played very well the last few games but couldn't win.
"We were one man down (Juan Jose Lozano was ejected early in the game) most of the game and took Atlanta into overtime. We outplayed the Cosmos but had two goals taken away from us. Both games we should have won. We knew the breaks would start to come our way sometime."
The dramatic victory could't have come at a better time. If they entertain any thoughts of overtaking the Eastern Division-leading Cosmos, now is the time for the Dips to make a move.
The cosmos are 9-2 with 77 points. Washington is 4-7 with 42 points and Rochester (5-5) and Toronto (4-6) have 41 and 38 points, respectively. Toronto played Detroit last night.
"Right now, we can't worry about who we play or who we put on the field." said Washington Coach Gordon Bradley. "We have to win games. The game we won the other night was very important to us. It should give some momentum now.
"We've been playing well the last few games. We were a better club than Atlanta and the Cosmos but we didn't win." Bradley said. "We know we aren't a 3-7 team and we're confident we'll begin to win now.
Washington will play in Chicago Saturday before returning home to face Fort Lauderdale June 15. A victory against the surging Sting (10-3) at Wrigley Field would boost the Dips' confidence immensely. After that, because of the Dips' red-card situation, Bradley will have to make some decision.
Midfielders Joe Horvath and Carmine Marcantonio were hit with red cards during altercations in the Cosmos game and must sit out a home contest. NASL rules say only one player must sit out at a time but Bradley could decide to sit both out in the Fort Lauderdale game. If not, one would not play and the other player would miss the San Jose contest June 22.
Johan Cruyff was assessed two yellow cards in the same game but they do not carry an automatic suspension. Cruyff, who is out 10 days to two weeks with a pulled thigh muscle, now has four yellow cards and 18 penalty points. An accumulation of 20 points carries a one-game suspension.
Without Cruyff in the lineup, the Dips' offense played well on what the players called an "awful field."
"The field was hard and the ball bounced off the Astroturf like it was a trapoline," said Iarusci. "We didn't play the Fury as well as we played the Cosmos but we won. We finally got a few breaks."
Washington also escaped without any serious injuries. Defender Don Droege suffered a bruised knee but is expected to play Saturday.
"Considering everything -- bad field, playing without Johan and being shut out for 89 minutes, we played well," Bradley said. "When they scored that goal, a ricochet goal at that, I said, 'Here we go again." But we came back. We needed that win to ease some of the pressure we've been under. We've been trying too hard.That win was welcome relief."