The Portland Timbers haven't been able to beat very many teams this year, which comes as a surprise to the Washington Diplomats.
Portland looks like Soccer Bowl stuff to the Dips.
The Timbers ended Washington's four-game winning streak tonight with a 2-1 victory in Civic Stadium. It was Portland's second win of the year over the Dip's, although the Timbers have beaten only four other clubs in 18 outings.
A grievous error by goalkeeper Bill Irwin led to the downfall.
In the 52nd minute, Portland's Robbie Rensenbrink rolled a little pass into the six-yard box that a teammate was supposed to run into. Instead, there was no receiver and Irwin casually slid down for the stop. The ball rolled underneath him and into the right corner of the goal.
That was only the second score the goal-starved Portland team had posted in its last six games.
Just over 15 minutes further into the action, Rensenbrink got a legitimate one, stinging the ball into the underside of the crossbar from five yards away. oThe ball rocketed back into the playing field, but referee Dante Maglio ruled it had been in, and Portland had another milestone -- its first two-goal game since May.
It was just 2.45 from the end that the Dips' Alan Green avoided a second shutout of 1980 for his team, with a shot under Portland keeper Jim Gorsek.
Bobby Stokes and Bob Iarusci assisted.
The goal gave Washington one consolation; it was the first goal Gorsek had given up in more than 400 minutes.
The loss dropped the Dips to 8-10 at the outset of one of the longest road trips in their history.
The 8,108 fans had anticipated a display by Johan Cruyff. Instead, the show went to Rensenbrink, Cruyff's one-time World Cup teammate for Holland, who is the only Portlander to have scored two goals in a game in 1980. He also has done it twice.
Not many things went the Dips' way in this one. Coach Gordon Bradley was forced into two early substitutions. Wim Jansen went out at halftime with a hamstring pull in his right leg, and Joe Horvath hurt a leg in the 60th minute.
Cruyff never got off a shot.
It was certain, one of the Portland writers pointed out, to be prominent in the Timbers' highlights film next winter, "because there haven't been many moments like it this year."
Dips keeper Bill Irwin said before tonight's contest that he hoped the team "could get just half from Johan on this trip that he produced Sunday. He is worth double the price of admission when he has that kind of magic."
Irwin referred to Cruyff's two-goal, three-assist game against Houston Sunday, the Dutchman's first big explosion since donning a Diplomat uniform. s
Cruyff was quiet in the scoreless first half, in which the Dips got off just three shots, two on goal, forcing Gorsek to make only one save.
For the Dips, the game here launched the 14-day, four game road trip that will continue Friday night with Cruyff's first return to Los Angeles since the Aztecs sold him in February.
A stop in San Diego July 9 will complete the West Coast tour, with the Dips ending their odyssey July 12 against the New England Tea Men.
The enigmatic Timbers went into the game having registered three straight shutouts with a substitute keeper in the nets -- and having lost two of them.
In fact, Portland had allowed only two goals in its five previous outings -- and had lost four of those.
Gorsek, the young American goalkeeper, had recorded those impressive defensive figures since taking over from Mick Poole (back and leg injures) on May 31, but he had lost two shootouts, plus two 1-0 games, sandwiched around a 1-0 win. Going into tonight's game, the Timbers had lost seven NASL games by 1-0 scores, plus an eighth to Manchester United of England in an exhibition.
Ironically, it was against the Dips that Portland earlier this year had posted a 4-2 win, a game that the Portland assistant coach, Jimmy Conway, referred to today as "probably the best the Timbers had played in three years."