Joe Horvath celebrated his second "debut" of the soccer season tonight in fine fashion, knocking home two goals to lift the Washington Diplomats over the Rochester Lancers. 2-1, before 9,106 at Holleder Stadium.
Playing his first game since being suspended for his altercation with an official in the Cosmos game June 1, Horvath played like a wild man against his former team. He scored the tying goal on a header midway in the first half, then connected on the game winner after controlling a cross from another former Lancer, Don Droege. Horvath's fourth goal of the season came at 78:28.
"No revenge," said a smiling Horvath. "I haven't played and I was just so glad to be on the field. We needed a win in the worst way and this was not a win for me but a team win. I just did my part."
Following Horvath's go-ahead goal, the Lancers put tremendous pressure on the Washington defense. But Nick Mijatovic, voted a NASL defensive player of the year in 1979 while playing for Rochester, Droege and goalie Bill Irwin were not about to let this one get away. Rochester had several excellent chances to tie the contest but each time the Dip defense toughened and Washington had its fifth win against nine losses.
"It didn't come easy," said Droege. "We outplayed them the entire game but we just couldn't get the goals. We got caught in a couple of mismatches but fortunately we got out of them. Finally, we get a break."
Rochester's game-long frustrations were apparent late in the contest. Leading scorer Branko Segota (six goals, three assists) threw his shirt at Lancer Coach Alex Perilli after he was replaced by Fred Grgureu. Segota stormed off the field to a cascade of boos from the home crowd.
Segota said he "probably would never play for Rochester again."
"The problem is the coach," screamed Segota, standing outside the stadium banging a brush on his car. "That's all I have to say."
Perolli said Segota was suspended for the remainder of the season unless the club owners say different.
"I took him out because I was fed up with him. He was doing nothing out there," said Perolli. "His attitude is bad and he's not a team player. Game after game, he has been a problem. He's gone."
Rochester, outshot, 24-12, grabbed a 1-0 lead on Mike Stojanovic's header at 29-51. The play was set up when midfielder Damir Sutevski controlled a pass by flipping it backwards past a Dip player and streaking upfield. His pass went to Pat Ercoli who sent it across to Stojanovic who outleaped a defender for the goal.
Washington, which had lost six of its previous seven games, came right back.Following a hand-ball call on Lancer defender Jim Polliham, Dip Win Jansen lofted a high ball into the middle of the Rochester box. Horvath was in perfect position and leaped over two Rochester for the header to tie the game at 33:10.
Both teams made mistakes but the Dips continued to control the midfield and to get their share of shots. Rochester had two good shots, by Ercoli and Segota, in the first 10 minutes of the second half but Washington keeper Bill Irwin saved both attempts.
The Dips' Alan Green and Bobby Stokes missed shots before Horvath connected on the game-winner. Tommy O'Hara, fouled by Craig Reynolds, put the indirect free kick in play with a high cross in the Rochester penalty box. tThe ball went to Droege on the right side and he headed the ball over Lancer goalie Enzo DiPede's head to Horvath.
Horvath, directly in front of the net, controlled the ball with his head, then patiently tapped the sphere into the open net.
"I had no angle to shoot the ball so I just tried to get it in the middle to someone," said Droege. "Joe was right there and put it in."
Horvath, not looking for the pass, almost looked surprised when he saw he was all alone. He had time to look the ball down to his foot and push it into the net without any interference.
"No one was there," said Horvath, shrugging his shoulders. "No one."
Dip Coach Gordon Bradley altered his defense a bit in the second half and the strategy paid. In the last two losses -- to Chicago and Fort Lauderdale -- the Washington defenders were often caught too far upfield and weren't able to get back in time, to stop those teams from scoring easy goals.
"Tonight, we didn't go forward as much," a beaming Bradley noted. "In the past, the transition game beat us. Tonight, the shoe was on the other foot. We sat back and waited for them to come up. But they didn't because they were afraid of Joe's left foot and Alan Green, who had 11 goals.