The Washington Diplomats are glowing with new-found confidence going into today's 2:30 p.m. contest against the lowly San Jose Earthquakes at RFK Stadium.
"We're definitely up after that win (in Rochester, N. Y., Tuesday) and, plus we're home," Dip defender Robert Iarusci said.
Now 5-9 with 53 points, the Dips are back in the cellar of the Eastern Division, five points behind Rochester, which won Friday night. Washington can make up ground with three games at RFK Stadium in the next week.
"This is the time to turn things around," said Washington Coach Gordon Bradley, following yesterday's workout. "We're coming off a very good win and hopefully we'll carry over the feelings into the next few games. We need victories and points badly."
Johan Cruyff, whom Bradley felt might be able to suit up today, felt a slight twinge in his pulled thigh muscle and probably won't play against the Earthquakes (5-10).
Reserve striker Tony Crescitelli, hampered by a pulled thigh muscle, will probably get his first start of the season today. He has played only 15 minutes this year.
Bradley said Crescitelli "looked very sharp this week" and probably will play up front with Alan Green, the team's leading scorer with 11 goals and one assist.
"I'll move Bobby (Stokes) back and let Tony and Alan work up front." Bradley said. "Why am I starting Crescitelli when the combination I played against Rochester won" It's just a feeling I have. I just think Tony is ready to play."
Stokes will play in the midfield with Joe Horvath, Sakib Viteskic and Wim Jansen. Horvath scored both goals in the win over the Lancers.
The defense was much stronger against the Lancers after being embarrassed by Chicago and Fort Lauderdale. Don Droege, Tommy O'Hara, Nick Mijatovic, Iarusci and goalie Bill Irwin limited the Lancers to 12 shots.
The Earthquakes, deep in the basement of the American Conference Western Division, have won only one of seven games on the road and are coming off a 4-0 trouncing in Fort Lauderdale Wednesday night.
But the Quakes can score. Flashy speedster Steve David (seven goals), talented but temperamental George Best and former Dip Andries Maseko are explosive players.
"Right now, it doesn't matter who we play," Bradley said. "We don't plan to make changes for certain teams. We'll just stick with our basic plan. We have to do for ourselves and not depend on other people."
Horvath's two-goal game against Rochester took a lot of pressure off Green, who has seen many double teams lately. For a long stretch, it seemed only the 5-foot-7 English winger was capable of kicking the ball in the net for Washington. Before the Rochester game, Green had scored in five of the previous six games.
He needs only two goals to tie the club record of 37 and five points to tie the point record of 89. Both marks are held by Paul Cannell, now with Memphis.
Two other former Dips, defender Ane Mihailovich and midfielder Cuss Hindink, have been pleasant additions for the Quakes. John Cabray, general manager in Washington last year, is the San Jose executive vice president and general manager.
San Jose, which got off to an 0-6 start, regrouped and has own five of its last nine games. The defense shut out Houston and Vancouver (Washington's next two opponents), and Detroit. Washington has not shut out anyone.