The Washington Diplomats exhibited many battle scars following Wednesday night's 2-1 North American Soccer League loss to Portland.

Coach Ken Furphy's first concern was a wound on the forehead of defender Peter Carr, a victim of an elbow by Timber striker Ally Brown.

"Go take a look at Peter's forehead (containing a gash with stitches over his left eye)" said Furphy. "Peter got stitches but no foul was called (by referee Dante Maglio). I mean, how does a player get a cut like that?"

Furphy also wondered how he could find a consistent offense after the Dips lost their eighth game out of their last 10. Washington (10-11) fell below the .500 mark for the first time since its season-opening loss to Fort Lauderdale.

The Dips' suffered their latest setback with just seconds left in regulation. Just when a Civic Stadium crowd of 8,155 was preparing to watch Washington play in what would have been its fourth straight overtime, Timber reserve Stuart Lee took a pass from Young Jeung Cho and kicked a low drive from eight yards out for the winner.

The goal ended a hard-fought contest between two teams with identical records and similar frustrations over recent play. Three yellow cards were handed out -- to Dip defender Malcolm Waldron and to Portland's Ally Brown and Cho. Carr was attended on the field for his cut with less than 20 minutes left in regulation.

"It was a physical game, something we're not used to," Furphy said. "Our problem is we didn't fight back."

"I wasn't impressed with the Timbers very much," added Carr. "We matched them in corner kicks and shots in the first half and lost the game on our own individual mistakes.

"I've seen this too many times, but we just have to keep going as a team. We're losing on individual mistakes, and not only in this game: it's been going on for the last five games."

The Diplomats hope the recent acquisition of Johan Cruyff will be the answer to some of their problems. Cruyff recently underwent groin surgery and his action has been limited to 15 minutes since joining the team. With Cruyff due to join Washington's starting lineup as an attacking midfielder, General Manager Duncan Hill found it the right time to trade Peter Baralic to the Tulsa Roughnecks in a cash deal.

The Dips now head south to Anaheim, Calif., for a Saturday night contest against the Surf to complete their West Coast road trip.