The Washington Diplomats, riding a four-game winning streak, are bent on roughing up Tulsa Wednesday night to avenge an early season loss to the Roughnecks.
"We've certainly got something to prove against Tulsa," Coach Gordon Bradley said yesterday. "Tulsa really bruised us up -- kind of ran us over a bit -- in the second game of the season." The Dips lost that game, 2-1.
"We remember Tulsa more than an other team. Johan (Cryuff) got hurt in that game and he definitely does not forget these things. We're prepared for Tulsa. Bring 'em on."
Sunday's 4-2 defeat of Rochester improved the Dip record to 12-13. A victory against Tulsa would put them at .500 for the first time this season.
Bradley spoke with confidence about his team, which has almost recovered from a midseason rash of injuries that greatly contributed to four straight losses on the road.
"We've put four good games to gethere, but they're all been at home," Bradley said. "We've got to win some road games, though, and we've got Minnesota, New York and Vancouver coming up.
"We have seven game left and I don't believe a 19-13 record is beyond us. We have to keep winning because even though we're nine points ahead of Toronto, if we lose and they win one we'll be right back where we started. Our game with Toronto (here Saturday) will be an 18-point game in effect."
The Dips went into second place Suday, but Bradley insists his team was playing to only 60 percent of its potential.
"Some of our players didn't perform up to par against Rochester," the coach said, "but those who didn't still put their heads down and played their positions and hustled. The team is finally showing its true character. Early in the season we would have lost that game. The character is back."
Besides determination, Bradley said he feels the Dips' middle-of-the-field performance is much better than it was two weeks ago.
"We weren't winning the 50-50 balls," he said. "The free balls in the middle of the field were always being won by the other team. We were playing a bit too elegantly, not winning those middle field battles. We weren't mixing it up physically. But that wasn't a problem against Rochester."
Bradley cited healthy players as the main reason for the improvement.
"For the first time this season I've been able to field the team I wanted to play," he said. "We've been sitting on an injured list nine players long until now. But now, the players and enthusiasm are back. We have something to prove."