Ken Furphy looked somber late Saturday night as he sat in his office dressed in a coat and tie -- the attire of a true Diplomat.

These were pensive moments.

"We just are not playing very well. But we are not out of it. Forget the Cosmos, we have to watch only Montreal now," said the Washington coach after his team had lost to the Minnesota Kicks, 3-1, at RFK Stadium and failed to pick up any points on the second-place Manic.

Seven games remain in the regular season. Montreal (12-13, 113 points) leads the Dips (12-13, 105 points) in the race for second place and a guaranteed spot in the playoffs. the third-place team could still reach the postseason as one of five wild card teams.

But Furphy was hardly thinking about playoffs.

"The way we are plyaing, it's just something you can't explain," Furphy said.

Dips' owner Jimmy Hill and his son Duncan, the team's general manager, have decided to take a week's vacation in Hilton Head, S.C., this week and will not attend the Dips-Dallas road game Friday night. Some members of the organization have suggested they could have picked a less stressful time to take their trip.

Jimmy Hill sees no problems, however. "It's not like a team will collapse just because the owner misses one game. It's not like I'll be 2 million miles away. This will be the only time I'll have to take a vacation this year. I will be at the (following) game in Toronto."

Saturday night's loss induced sporadic boos from the second smallest home crowd of the season (7,771). It also raised some questions about Johan Cruyff, the Dutch midfielder who has been bother by a groin pull.

Cruyff did not play Saturday night. He has missed four of the seven games the Dips have played since he joined the team and has played only one entire game. As his injury problems have lingered, so have the team's troubles.

"Management paid a lot of money to get a high goal scorer and we thought he would respond," said Furphy. "When he was checked by doctors in Europe before we got him, we were told that he would be ready in four-five days. It has sort of backfired.

"When he is fit, he is vital to our offense. But if he is unfit, he might have players run right by him and we can't base an offense about him when he is like that. He has tremendous abilities. What we probably should have done is rest him for about a month when he first came here."

Hill, the owner who is paying Cruyff $175,000 for the final 14 games of the regular season and, he hopes, a playoff game or two, said, "The team was in trouble before Johan came here. Even after that 8-3 start, the team still lacked the impetus. We have winning players, but unfortunately many lack confidence. Now, we must survive this nasty spell."

Hill added, "This (injury/absence) is not Johan's fault. He has had good rehabilitation and he has a great attitude. He wants to play. Johan's long-term fitness in not in question, either. We have been told by doctors that he will be fine. It's not like he is dead. He will be back soon."