Alan Green, July 12: "Nothing's going right. It's absolutely maddening. I wish I could figure out the problem but I can't. It just seems like we'll never get untracked. We've no confidence at all."
Alan Green, yesterday: "It's all falling into place now. We may have turned it around in Memphis. We started coming together as a unit that game. Now we're playing with confidence. We go out each game expecting to win."
Tonight, Green and his confident Washington Diplomat temmates will try to extend their winning streaks to five when they take on the Tulsa Roughnecks at 8 p.m. at RFK Stadium (WWDC-1260).
Since July 12, when they dropped their fourth straight game, a frustrating 1-0 loss to the New England Tea Men, the Dips, now 12-13, have won four in a row, picking up 34 of a possible 36 points.
Clearly, the return to the lineup of a healthy and eager Johan Cruyff has made a difference. But Cruyff has been only part of the story. Green, with 20 goals for the season, has played superbly and has received ample help up front from Tony Crescitelli. The acquistion from Los Angeles of midfielder Thomas Rongen has worked out well. The defense, with Wim Jansen at sweeper, is playing well and so is Dragan Radovich in goal.
"We're at the point now where we look around and say, 'If we play up to our potential, there's no reason we can't be right here for the Soccer Bowl on Sept. 21." green said. "We've got the talent and now we seem to have the motivation.
"And," he added, "if we ever got to Soccer Bowl I don't see any way we would lose on our home field."
The Dips are a long way from the Soccer Bowl. They are still trying to nail down second place in the National Conference East. With a 12-13 record and 115 points, they are nine points ahead of third-place Toronto. A victory tonight and another here Saturday against the Blizzard would take the Dips a long way toward wrapping up the second spot.
The Roughnecks (12-13), much like Washington, have been a Jekyll-and-Hyde team all season. They started quickly, then dropped, five in a row and looked to be in serious trouble. But they have won their last two games with shutouts and already have beaten the Diplomats once this season, 2-1 in Tulsa in April.
The game was a major topic of conversation among the Dips yesterday. The game was extremely rough, with several Dips, most notably Cruyff, getting banged up.
"We won't let them do that on our home field; you can be sure of that," said Coach Gordon Bradley. "We'll be out there looking to make up for the last time we played them."
Green, one of the team's low-key players, was as controlled as ever. "All we want to do is play our normal game at home," he said. "If we do that, we should win."
The Dips are 9-3 at home, 3-10 on the road. But the third road win, in Memphis against former Diplomats Jim Steele, Paul Cannell and Bob Stetler 10 days ago, may be looked back on as a key if this team continues to come on.
"We pulled together for that one," Green said. "We knew Steelie, Paul and Bobby were out for us. Maybe we needed something like that to get us working together."
With Cruyff healthy and running the show at midfield, the Dips, with four of their seven remaining games at home, should be capable of finishing at least .500. Their main job tonight will be to stop the Roughneck duo of Johannes Evaldson (nine goals, seven assists) and veteran Alan Woodward (eight goals, seven assists). It was Woodward, now an assistant coach, who scored the winning goal in Tulsa.
"After New England, I think some of us were almost ready to give it up," Green said. "It would have been very easy to just quit, use the injuries as an excuse. But we've come back. We've done a lot on pride. Now, we have to keep going."
The Diplomats' No. 1 choice in the spring draft, Ed Hawkins, will not sign with the team. Hawkins worked out with the Dips, decided he was not ready for pro ball and will enroll at Hartwick College in the fall . . . Tommy O'Hara has now played 34 consecutive games without missing a minute . . . If the Dips draw 36,427 for the two home games this week, they will reach 1 million in attendance for their seven-year history.