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Durgan, who after wavering between the Cosmos and Team America has since become the latter's outspoken captain, sounds as though he might be willing to take Davis up on his offer. "If this team isn't right for Davis or for anybody, let them come and help," he says. "You have to get off the fence."
Meanwhile, Samuels suggests that Panagoulias solve the problem by decreeing that any U.S. player chosen for Team America next season must either play for it or forfeit consideration for the World Cup squad, which will begin qualifying matches in the fall of 1984. For his part, Panagoulias refuses to be the heavy. "If I force them to come, they won't play hard for me," he says. "But as the World Cup gets closer they must come, because they don't want people saying, 'He takes care of himself but not his country.' "
There were hints last week that Panagoulias may be right. Both Davis and Moyers said they would reconsider the issue next season. Another top American, Seattle Forward Mark Peterson, left the Sounders to join Team America on Aug. 8. Against the Cosmos, Peterson made the pass that set up Rudy Glenn for the team's only score.
"See the difference just one good player makes," said Panagoulias. "Now give us three or four, then send over Juventus. Then send over anybody."
But until then, Panagoulias has to face the task of building a team with the materials at hand. "The American weaknesses are in ball skills and lack of game experience at top levels of competition," he says. "The strengths are defense, coachability and fighting spirit." Given these premises, Panagoulias has created a defense that ranks near the top of the league, but apparently at the expense of his offense. At week's end Team America ranked last in the league in goals scored with 26. Deducting three goals awarded for shoot-out wins, two scored on penalty kicks, two on corner kicks, two on free kicks and one own-goal, leaves a pathetic 16 goals in 24 games.
"I don't blame Alkis for playing defensively," says Cosmos Coach Julio Mazzei. "But I don't like to think this is the emerging American national style. This is not soccer. This is anti-soccer. As Americans get better, they will get more creative."
Maybe. But for now, a defensive team is not all that Panagoulias hath wrought. Team America is a rough defensive team. "We're tough and physical, but it's because we have to be," says Durgan.
It is Team America's predisposition to hit that prompted San Diego Sockers owner Bob Bell to dub the club Team Animal following the Americans' 2-1 win on May 21. Each team picked up 21 fouls that day. Indeed, there are moments when Team America, the tallest and heaviest (per-man average: 5'11�", 172� pounds) in the NASL, looks more like the football squad that calls itself America's Team. Saturday was a case in point: Glenn, a 6'2", 185-pound defender, was yellow-carded in the first half when he came up swinging at Juventus Forward Domenico Penso after a sideline collision, and later he was ejected after a pushing match with Antonio Cabrini.
Said Crescitelli: "The Italians saw the way Rudy and some of the guys were playing and they came to me and said, 'Pazzo! Pazzo!' [Crazy! Crazy!]. They're not used to their opponents playing that rough. Maybe we're all crazy."
Bump-and-run aside, Team America had its graceful moments as well, evidenced by a first half in which its dizzying one-touch passing and ball control appeared to be the equal of Juventus'. For the game, Team America could get only 12 shots on goal, while Juventus had 23. But for more than 16 giddy minutes in the first half, Team America threatened to make good Durgan's pregame promise to make Juventus "wish they'd never left Italy." The Americans had a 1-0 lead after Borja's closeup boot of a perfect lead header from Alan Green 7:19 into the game. It required a set play and an unfortunate deflection by Team America's Peterson for Juventus to even the game. After an indirect kick, Penso took the feed from Michel Platini and beat Goalie Paul Hammond with a 30-yarder to the upper right corner at 23:50.