The Washington Diplomats received a jolt today when midfielder Joe Horvath was suspended for two games by the North American Soccer League for his altercation with an official during the Washington-Cosmos game Sunday.
Horvath will miss Saturday's game against the Chicago Sting and a June 15 contest against Fort Lauderdale. Horvath and Johan Cruyff who was given a yellow card for "verbal dissent" with an official in the Cosmos game, also were fined an undisclosed sum of money.
Horvath, who was second on the team in scoring with two goals and four assists for eight points, was stunned at the ruling.
"It's not good," Horvath said. "I didn't push him (official Gordon Arrowsmith) down. When he took away the goal, I ran down to tell him he was wrong. I grabbed his shirt and pointed at him. I didn't push him.
"I expected some action but not this bad."
NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam announced he has rescinded the red card given Diplomat midfielder Carmine Marcantonio, who reportedly tossed the game the Dips lost, 2-1, at RFK Stadium. Woosnam said there was not enough evidence to suspend him. Marcantonio will be eligible to play against Fort Lauderdale at RFK, Red-card suspensions are only for home games.
Diplomat Coach Gordon Bradley was irate over the league's late decision.
"It's very unfair to notify us at this time," said Bradley, who received the news following his team's workout today in preparation for the Sting game here Saturday.
"We're in Chicago and I have the lad (Horvath) with me. It's just not right. We never seem to get any breathing space. We didn't have a 24-hour notice."
Bradley immediately called for reinforcement for Washington, summoning Sakib Viteskic and Kip Germain to Chicago. Don Droege, who suffered a slight knee strain in Washington's dramatic 2-1 overtime victory in Philadelphia Wednesday night, was limping during training and Bradley called Germain as a backup. Cruyff hurt his leg in the Cosmos game and did not make the trip.
Bradley said he probably would start Ken Mokgojoa up front along with Alan Green and drop Juan Jose Lozano back to the midfield in Horvath's place.
Washington was flying high before the news of Horvath's suspension. The Dips trailed Philadelphia, 1-0 with only 37 seconds remaining in regulation when Alan Green's ninth goal of the year sent the game into overtime.
Robert Iarusci scored on a header three minutes later to help the Dips to a 2-1 victory that snapped a four-game losing streak.
"That was a god win to go to Chicago with, with now we have to make changes because of this bad news," Bradley said. "chicago is a much improved club with good players. I'm concerned about th sudden changes but we have to play. We're 4-7 and right now we need victories. I just don't think it's fair to tell us this now."