The Diplomats, winners of two of their last three games, will try to finish the North American Soccer League season in high fashion without Johan Cruyff.
The Diplomats (14-15) play the league-leading Cosmos at Giants Stadium at 7:30 tonight in the first of three final games. Cruyff, their high-priced Dutch superstar, will probably contribute little in the chase for much-needed points that would qualify the Dips for the playoffs.
Duncan Hill, the Diplomat general manager, said yesterday that he has given up hope that Cruyff will play again this season.
Cruyff, acquired 11 games ago to revive the slumping Diplomats, has started only one game and played in two others. He has not practiced with the team lately because of a groin injury.
Diplomats who are playing despite injuries include Jim Brown (tendinitis), Trevor Franklin (neck spasms) and Dave McGill (bruised calf). Peter Carr (pulled groin) and Eddie Colquhoun (separated shoulder) have recovered from injuries that have kept them out three and five games, respectively.
The Diplomats are 1-2 in their Eastern Division series with the Cosmos this season.
Washington has one advantage this game: the Cosmos' recent performances. The Cosmos remain atop the point standings with 182, but have lost three games in a row, the most in the history of the franchise.
The Cosmos' lineup, which was shuffled after their second loss, will include Roberto Cabanas, the team's second-leading scorer who has been out for a month with a pulled groin muscle. Cabanas, the 20-year-old native of Paraguay, was the league's second-leading scorer when he was injured in July.