Klopas Scores Two but Can't Head Off U.S. Loss : Soccer: Defense breaks down in second half as Bayern Munich Wins, 3-2.


In most countries, Frank Klopas' hot head would have earned him a place on front pages, billboards and perhaps even ballots for political office. With his two goals Saturday, both on headers, he has six in the last six games.

But the Greek first division veteran is now playing soccer in the United States, where six or even 60 goals and a couple of dollars still will not buy a glass of ouzo. He also is playing for a side, the U.S. national team, that often cannot win even with an exceptional performance from one of its performers.

That was the situation at Municipal Stadium, where a crowd of 16,492 left not in elation over Klopas' goals but in distress over the final score. It was Klopas 2, Bayern Munich 3.

Even though it would not be fair, it would be easy to second-guess U.S. Coach Bora Milutinovic for removing Klopas from the game at the end of the first half, when his team had a 2-1 lead. But Milutinovic is more concerned about this summer's World Cup than he is about beating Bayern Munich and wanted to see Ernie Stewart, who arrived 11 days ago after finishing his season with a Dutch professional team, play the striker position.

Besides, it was not the offense that cost the United States the game but the defense, which broke down often in the second half, giving up two goals within one particularly stupefying four-minute stretch.

So now there are only three games remaining for Milutinovic to find the answers to his prayers before the United States opens play June 18 against Switzerland in the World Cup.

Asked about U.S. chances in that monthlong tournament, Bayern Munich's general manager, Uli Hoeness, said: "If the United States plays like that, it will be very difficult for them."

But the U.S. coaching staff did not panic after Saturday's loss for a couple of reasons, one of them having to do with the strength of its opponent.

Bayern Munich, the champion of Germany's first division, would be a match for a number of national teams, and one of its assets is its depth. Among the five starters absent Saturday was striker Adolfo Valenica of Colombia, but Mehmet Scholl moved up from his usual position in the midfield and scored two goals.

Also, the United States was unveiling a new defensive scheme, and it is only natural that there was some confusion.

That is the charitable analysis.

It is less charitable to point out that some U.S. defenders not only were a step behind in their movements against Bayern Munich but also in their thinking. And they did not appear to be thinking at all when Scholl dribbled unimpeded down the middle of the field to score the winning goal in the 60th minute.

No one was more astonished than U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who was left in the unenviable position of having to face Scholl one on one.

All three Bayern Munich goals resulted from errors in front of Friedel, which he no doubt hopes the coaches will note as they try to decide whether he or Tony Meola will be the starting goalkeeper.

Because of Klopas' streak, the coaches also will be faced with an unexpected difficult decision concerning the starting striker. Until recently, it was assumed that the job belonged to Stewart.

"The bottom line is that it's the striker's job to score goals," U.S. assistant Steve Sampson said. "Anyone with a history of scoring goals, especially a recent history, has got to be a strong contender to be in the first 11. Klopas is quickly making a name for himself."

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