The Washington Diplomats were lucky last night. They put corner kicks into the side of the net, kicked easy passes out of bounds, and defender Paul Emordi even got away with punching a player in the face (though he later was ejected for another infraction). "It wasn't the best game for us," Washington Coach Hugo Berly said.
They were lucky to lose just 2-1 to Athletico Morelia of Mexico in a CONCACAF (Confederation of Central American and Carribean Football) Cup game before 300 at RFK Stadium. The contest was the first of a two-game second-round series between the teams that concludes Thursday night at RFK at 8 p.m.
The only thing more incredible than their poor play was that the Diplomats managed to stay with a clearly superior team. Almost 17 minutes were played before Washington took its first shot, one that sailed wide to the right, as the Diplomats received a sample of top-notch soccer. Morelia, a member of the Mexican First Division, played short, crisp passes, its fast transition game dominating Washington's long ball offense.
Still, Washington scored first at 20:51. Forward Jean Harbor was five feet in front of the goal when he got a pass from Leonel Suazo. Harbor scored easily.
Morelia scored 5:56 later off a looping corner kick by Mexican national team member Mario Diaz that Fernando Varnal easily put away.
Said Berly: "The first half was slow for us, but we did much better in the second."
Humberto Ron, another Mexican national team member, gave Morelia a 2-1 lead at 54:41 on a booming shot from outside the penalty area. Angel Busto, from the Chilean national team, assisted.
Goalkeeper Keith Lenert had six saves for the Diplomats. Mario Diaz had four for Morelia.