Washington Diplomat Coach Ken Furphy has installed two-a-day practices this week to prepare his team for a Saturday night home rematch with Soccer Bowl finalist Fort Lauderdale.
Furphy said Sunday that he would spend increased time drilling the team on man-to-man marking to guard against quick letdowns the Dips have encountered after they take a one-goal lead.
The defense, which has played well this season, "has a tendency to let the opposing forwards turn to face the goal and get off better shots after we've taken a lead," Furphy said. He wants his team to keep its aggressiveness, offensively and defensively.
The Dips dominated Montreal in last week's home opener at RFK but went into a shell after taking a 1-0 lead early in the second half. Washington also led Fort Lauderdale, 1-0, late in the season opener in Florida but lost in overtime, 2-1, after the Dips stopped attacking and tried to sit on their lead against a superb Striker offense.
Furphy seems fiercely determined to win Saturday's rematch. He and the team have been quick to acknowledge weaknesses so far, and they work on them long and hard in the morning and afternoon practice sessions.
Most NASL coaches grumble about the NASL schedule, which has teams playing only one game per week early in the season. But Furphy says the arrangement benefits his club, which has several new players who are still adjusting to teammates and Furphy's system.
"We really need five or six days in the middle of the week to work on things like this man-to-man marking."