The soccer Diplomats, whose defense was exploited in a 5-2 loss in Chicago on Saturday, received some good news for a change yesterday.
Midfielders Juan Jose Lozano and Sonny Askew, both injured during the second half of the game with the Sting, could be ready to play Sunday against Fort Lauderdale in RFK Stadium.
Lozano went down hard after being kicked in the calf by Chicago's Bret Hall and was limping yesterday. He said his leg was "tender, but not that bad."
Askew suffered a bruised leg and foot. Although Askew said he felt much better the day after, his right foot will be X-rayed this morning as a precaution.
"I hurt the foot kicking the ball," said Askew, who had been slowed by a toe injury earlier in the season. "The pain was right on top of the foot. I don't think anything's broken, but it is sore."
Askew's leg bruise was not considered serious.
Midfielders Wim Jansen and Carmine Marcantonio and defender Don Droege were also hobbling from an assortment of presumably minor leg bruises. "It was a very physical game," affirmed Chicago midfielder Arno Steffenhagen, who scored a hat trick to help dump the Dips. "Washington tried to be physical and that suits us well."
The loss dumped the Dips (4-8) into last place NASL's National Conference Eastern Division.
Washington was awful in the second half. After the Dips tied the score, 1-1, their defense fell apart and allowed the Sting four goals to bring about their worst defeat of the season.
Washington Coach Gordon Bradley refused to single out any one individual for poor play. And he did not anticipate making any changes for the Strikers' visit.
"I thought the score would end up 10-9 the way both teams were getting chances," Bradley said. "But you have to credit Chicago with keeping pressure on us. On a wet field, you expect both teams to make a lot of mistakes. We both played on the same (rain-soaked) field, so I can't say that it affected us that much."
Washington outshot Chicago, 26-14, but was utterly manhandled following a 28-minute rain delay in the first half at Wrigley Field.
If Askew and Lozano can't play Sunday, Washington will be hurting in more ways than two.
Joe Horvath must sit out Sunday as part of a two-game suspension imposed for badgering linesman Gordon Arrowsmith in the Washington-Cosmos game June 1.
Diplomat leader John Cruyff continues to limp from a pulled thigh muscle and is listed as extremely doubtful.
Dip striker Alan Green notched his 10th goal of the season with five seconds left in Saturday's game, but otherwise Washington's front line again failed to mount any real offensive thrust. Several of Washington's shots were taken by Dip defenders, with Robert Iarusci accounting for the first goal, his third in three games.