Frank Klopas continues to provide what the U.S. national soccer team so desperately needs--scoring. His goal against Armenia on Sunday was his fourth in five games and gave the United States a 1-0 victory in front of 9,753 at Cal State Fullerton.
Klopas' goal in the 64th minute was one of a handful of chances the Americans (4-4-7 in 1994) generated after a sluggish first half. The U.S. team had trouble getting through the Armenians' six-men-back defense in the first half.
The U.S. players were in an offensive alignment, with Mike Burns--who usually plays as a central defender--at the right back and Thomas Dooley pressing forward constantly. Cobi Jones was one player able to break through, but he wasn't able to capitalize.
Anything created in the second half came from the U.S. midfield, which seemed comfortable and confident for the first time in weeks. Particularly effective was the combination of Hugo Perez and Claudio Reyna, who displayed a great flair for one-touch passes.
U.S. Coach Bora Milutinovic, who is fond of the creative ball-control style that both Perez and Reyna prefer, was typically restrained when assessing their teamwork, saying, "The connection is good."
Reyna acknowledged his rapport with Perez and emphasized how fun it is to play in that style.
"It felt good," he said. "We work together as much as we can. We have similar styles so we work together well."
Klopas' return to the team after a serious knee injury has been pressurized because he has little time to impress Milutinovic.
"I feel better and better every game," Klopas said. "I thank Bora for letting me play 90 minutes. That's what I need."
Klopas' shot from just outside the box hit the far post and bounced in.
U.S. goalkeeper Tony Meola did not have a busy day, facing only three shots, but he made a great save on a breakaway in the second half.