As the Washington Diplomats head south for a Wednesday soccer game with San Diego, Coach Gordon Bradley is faced with more of the same nagging problems that have kept his team from becoming a consistent winner all season.
Friday night the Dips lost Jordan Cruyff and Tony Crescitelli with thigh injuries, and the game, as well, to Los Angeles, 2-1.
Already out of service is Joe Horvath, who will undergo examinination Sunday of ligament damage ot his left knee, with surgery probably Monday; Wim Jensen, who will return to Washington Sunday with a bad hamstring pull suffered against Portland; goalie Bill Irwin, slowly recovering from a shoulder muscle pull; Juan Jose Lozano, out with the leg broken June 7 in Chicago, and Ken Mokgojoa, still recovering from phlebitis.
Bradley does not expect any of his wounded to be ready for San diego.
"Johan was only 60 percent before the (Los Angeles) game. These games are just coming too quickly," the veteran coach said with a sigh.
"I took two sprints and started to feel the pain," Cruyff explained. "I took my first shot, rested for five minutes and then took another run."
Cruyff's header barely missed going in and, as the second half began, he was replaced by Bobby Stokes.
"The pain's a little higher in the leg and maybe not as serious," Cruyff said. "I'll just have to wait to see how it feels."
Despite the injuries, there was some good news for Bradley in the Dips' overtime loss to the Aztecs.
Reserve goalie Dragan Radovich proved a capable replacement and Sonny Askew played for the first time in a month.
"He (Radovich) did well, "Bradley pointed out. "He looked confident. He did exceptionally well. I would feel confident using him at any time."
"I felt pretty good out there," Radovich said. "I was a little nervous, but . . . I've been practicing for this chance for two years. I gave it my best.
"I was a little shook up after the first half goal (by Luis Fernando, which tied the game at 1-1), but the guys talked to me at halftime and calmed me down."
Radovich was near perfect. Although he was credited with only three saves, he continually ventured out of goal to cut off shots.
While the Diplomats went without a shot for nearly 20 minutes of the second half, Radovich stopped the Aztecs. First, he snared a 16-foot shot by Mihahl Keri and minutes later knocked Poli Garcia's header over the goal post just as the shot appeared ready to fall in for a score.
Los Angeles' game-tying goal had come at 33:02 of the first half when sharp passes by Keri and Javier Aguirre set up Fernando for his 16th goal this season.
The Aztecs, who improved their record to 12-6, had scored 19 goals in their previous six games. But they couldn't break through again until Leo Van Veen put in the game winner 2:30 into overtime.
The Dips had scored early while Cruyff still was playing. Alan Green took a cross from Gary Darrell six yards out and headed the ball past Alfredo Anhielo, the third best NASL keeper with a 1.17 average for goals against.
Anhielo proved his worth late in the second half.With 3:38 to play, Sakib Viteskio took a free kick and centered into a crowd of players. Bob Iarusci took a shot that Anhielo stopped. Don Droega got the rebound but his shot went wide.
"The ball flew up just as I kicked it," Iarusci said. "The goalie made a clean stop, but the ball came out to Don. He trapped it . . . his kick went wide. That was the game."