The Washington Diplomats, just a month ago apparently easily headed for a playoff berth in the North American Soccer League, are in danger of falling under 500 for the first time since their first game.

The Diplomats fell to a 10-10 record Saturday night after losing at home, 3-2, in overtime to Seattle. They go on the road this week with games against Portland and California.

Their once-large Eastern Division lead over third-place Montreal is now four points (86-82) after the Manic's 3-1 victory yesterday over Minnesota. Montreal, which plays at Atlanta Friday, has a game in hand on the slumping Diplomats.

The Dips looked terrible in the second half in losing their fourth straight overtime contest and seventh in the last nine games. Washington created enough chances to score three or four goals in the last three minutes of regulation while dominating play 70 per cent of the time.

Nonetheless, Washington General Manager Duncan Hill and Coach Ken Furphy were calm after their team threw away a two-goal halftime lead.

The Dips lost, and they shouldn't have, but Hill chose to talk about Seattle's goal off a penalty kick that tied the game, 2-2, in the 54th minute. sBut even if the penalty for tripping against Peter Baralic should not have been called, it was a poor excuse on which to blame the loss. Hill knew it, and admitted it, reluctantly.

"I must admit, that penalty call is not why we lost the game," Hill conceded.

"We had four chances to score in the last three minutes," Hill said. Then he added, "But it was awfully exciting soccer for the fans, wasn't it? The game never should have been tied, though. That penalty-kick call was a disgrace."

Furphy also chose not to critcize his team for misfiring time after time. "I can't possibly say we had a letdown, after creating 15 chances to score."

The name of the game, however, is scoring, not creating. The Dips haven't done much scoring when they've needed it, as defender Peter Carr attested.