Tactically, shorthanded teams almost always rely on counterattacks to burn overly aggressive opponents. "We'll drop everyone back inside our own half and let the other team walk out with it," says defender Peter Vermes of the Colorado Rapids. "When we win the ball, our objective is to get it wide and let our guys run it down the sideline. When the defense converges on me ball, we'll switch it to the other side. Then it's just a footrace to the goal."
While some players weren't surprised when they learned of the man-advantage jinx, others were stunned. "That's not supposed to happen," says Los Angeles Galaxy defender Dan Calichman. "Maybe we should try and get a red card in the next game."
World Cup '98
Jamaicans Decry British Invasion
The 2.6 million people of Jamaica rejoiced last November when theirs became the third Caribbean nation ever to qualify for the World Cup. Lately, though, coach Rene Simoes has drawn increasing criticism from the home folks for pursuing a time-honored strategy: recruiting soccer mercenaries. After bringing in four English-born players of Jamaican heritage during World Cup qualifying (including forward Deon Burton, who scored four goals in five matches), Simoes has tried out four more English imports for spots on the Cup roster.
With domestic players being cast aside, some Jamaicans have become hopping mad that their Reggae Boyz are acquiring a British accent. Tony Becca, the sports editor of the country's largest daily, The Gleaner, has written several columns attacking Simoes. "I had no problem with using the four players from England during the qualifiers," Becca says, "but as a Jamaican I would feel much better if the team was a product of Jamaica, not England."
"Everybody is a coach," says Simoes, a Brazilian. "I look for quality, and we play at a higher level when our England-based players are on the field." No kidding. On April 20 against lowly Macedonia, Simoes started a team of native Jamaicans that gave up two goals in the first half. He sent in his Brits after halftime, and Jamaica nearly pulled off the comeback, losing 2-1. After Jamaica fell 1-0 to Iran last week with four mercenaries in the lineup, it was clear that Simoes still needs reinforcements. That's why you can log on to the team's Web site (www.uwimona.edu.jm/sports/football/links/japlayers.html) and see soccer's version of a milk-carton plea: "Do you know of any other players with Jamaican heritage overseas? If so click here."