Fort Lauderdale scored two second-half goals in four minutes and held on to dump the slumping Diplomats, 2-1, in a NASL match before 19,176 yesterday at RFK Stadium. Injury struck three more Washington players as the Dip record sagged to 4-9.
Just before the game, reserve forward Ken Mokgojoa was rushed to George Washington University Hospital with a possible broken blood vessel in his left leg. Midfielder Carmine Marcantonio left the game late in the second half with a slightly pulled right hamstring. Defender Don Droege suffered a broken nose.
Droege, elbowed leaping for a ball, finished the game and probably will play in Washington's game in Rochester Tuesday night. Marcantonio joins midfielders Sonny Askew, Johan Cruyff and Juan Jose Lozano on the disabled list. Mokgojoa, kicked during practice Saturday, is expected to be hospitalized several days.
The Dips controlled the game much of the first half but wasted excellent scoring opportunities and left the field at intermission in a scoreless deadlock.
"We had good shots and should have had a goal or two but . . ." said dejected midfielder Sakib Viteskic, who played well in his first start since early this year. "We tried everything. Nothing worked."
Washington continued to press at the beginning of the second half and paid for its overexuberance. For the umpteenth time, the Dips were caught with too many players playing offense at the wrong time and couldn't get back in time to stop the Strikers from scoring.
Washington was on the attack when Gary Darrell's throw-in was intercepted by midfielder Lex Schoenmaker near midfield. Schoenmaker was in the Dip penalty box in what seemed like two strides and passed perfectly to striker Gerd Mueller. The lumbering West German, who looks more like a Sumo wrestler than a soccer player, made one move to get around Droege, then slipped a 16-yard shot past outstretched Dip keeper Bill Irwin. The ball came to a halt in the right corner of the net and Fort Lauderdale was on top, 1-0, at 68:06.
"It was a silly throw-in," Darrell said. "I looked to Tommy O'Hara and Steve Byrd and should have gone to Tommy. But just as I held the ball up to go to Byrd, he didn't look and broke upfield." Byrd, a rookie from Old Dominion University, was appearing in his first game as a Diplomat, as a substitute.
Droege said he and his teammates just couldn't get back in time to stop the Striker goal.
"Too many people were up again," said Droege, who along with sweeper Nick Mijatovic played exceptionally well to shut down the Fort Lauderdale offense most of the way. "There was that mixup on the throw-in. I got back but fell when I tried to stop Mueller. We couldn't break it up."
Washington, which has lost six of its last seven games, had to send extra people up on offense to seek the equalizer. Fort Lauderdale, in improving its mark to 10-6 and regaining first place in the American Conference East Division, played keep-away with its one-goal lead.
The Strikers, playing without midfielders Francisco Marinho, (separated shoulder) and Eduardo Bonvallet (indefinitely suspended because of a money dispute), got another big break three minutes later.
The Dips had missed two stright shots on goal, the second attempt bounding out to the 35-yard line where Teofilo Cubillas outmaneuvered Dip winger Bobby Stokes for the ball. Cubillas, who has tremendous speed, moved downfield and dropped off a pass to Ray Hudson in the middle of the field. Hudson sent the ball over to Schoenmaker who faked Mijatovic and kicked home his second goal of the year.
"At halftime the coach told me to give more support up front," Schoenmaker related. "Washington had been coming and coming and when we did get the ball, we didn't have too many people on offense."
Washington got back in the game at 81:23 when Alan Green scored on a diving header following a crossing pass from Bobby Iarusci. It was Green's 11th goal of the year and left him just one goal and two points shy of Paul Cannell's career Diplomat records of 37 goals and 94 points.
The goal surprised the Strikers but they quickly regrouped and went back into their defensive shell. For the remaining eight minutes no fewer than 10 men sat back to stop the Diplomat surges.
The Dips, again outshooting the opposition in defeat, managed to get a few more tries despite the Striker wall. Droege's header was barely tipped over the bar by goalie Arnold Mausser, who had several outstanding saves as Washington fired 20 shots to the visitor's eight.
The game ended with Washinton threatening Green and Striker defender Jon Pot became tangled in the box leaping for a ball but no penalty was called. Green went down but was not hurt. On the ensuing-corner kick with 11 seconds left, Irwin had left the box fronting his goal and had a full head of steam when he leaped over everyone for a header. The ball sailed over the Fort Lauderdale goal and the Strikers had their second 2-1 triumph over the Dips this season.
"Had Irwin scored, I would have killed myself," said Mausser, who was as shocked as Irwin's teammates to see the 6-foot-2 goalie trying a shot. "But I guess, in a situation like that, why not?"
Washington Coach Gordon Bradley said the team is in critical trouble now.
"We've run out of depth and we're struggliing," Bradley said. "Three more players went down. I can't believe it. Except for those two mistakes -- if you want to call them that -- we played well. Sakib and Gary and Byrd, who has never played before, did well. Sure, it's discouraging but we're still not at the halfway point of the season. One of our problems is that we can't get the same people on the field at the same time.
"But we had chances," Bradley allowed. "Had we scored early when both Green and Viteskic had open shots, things might have turned out differently." g