U.S. Team Unhappy As Cup Match Nears

Alex Yannis
Date Published: 
New York Times

The failure to score a goal in the last two World Cup qualifying games has not only contributed to putting the United States in the position of needing to beat Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday to qualify for the 1990 World Cup finals, but has also created dissension among the players on the United States team.

Defenders and midfielders are disenchanted with the forwards for their lack of production, while forwards attribute their scoring drought to the lack of service from midfield.

''I don't think one goal is too much to ask of our forwards,'' said Brian Bliss, one of the few who has performed consistently well at either defense or midfield in all seven games of the final qualifying round. ''We do feel we're doing our part and they're not doing theirs.''

''If I say we're not doing our job because of lack of service, I'll make a lot of people angry,'' said Bruce Murray, who has played on attack in every qualifying game. ''But that's the truth.'' A 208-Minute Drought

The Americans have gone scoreless for the last 208 minutes of World Cup qualifying action and can join Costa Rica as the sectional qualifier for the World Cup finals in Italy next summer only by beating Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday in Port of Spain.

Trinidad and Tobago can advance with a tie because after the Americans' scoreless deadlock with El Salvador in their last game, the two teams have the same number of points but Trinidad has a better goal differential, the first criterion in case of a tie in points.

''When the team doesn't score, it's pretty normal for forwards and midfielders to blame each other,'' Coach Bob Gansler said the other day by telephone from Cocoa Beach, Fla., where the Americans are preparing for what could be their last World Cup game until 1994, when they will gain an automatic berth because the United States will be the host country.

''Frustration comes out, and people are looking at other individuals before they look at themselves,'' Gansler said. ''The consummate professional looks at himself first and says, 'What can I do better?' rather than blame others.''

In response to that notion, Murray said: ''I'm the first one to tell you I'm not playing as well as I should, but there isn't much I can do without the ball. The fact is we haven't been getting any service.''

There is plenty of validity to that complaint. Forwards cannot be effective unless they get decent passes in the right places at the right time, usually before the opposition has a chance to set up its defense. Playmakers Who Weren't

In the scoreless tie with El Salvador on Nov. 5 in St. Louis, the midfielders failed to link well with the attackers in part because of the nature of the players who were given that task. Gansler used John Stollmeyer and even Steve Trittschuh in playmaking roles, yet had Tab Ramos playing part of the game on right wing and John Harkes playing as a defensive midfielder.

Stollmeyer's strength is running around destroying what the other team is trying to build; Trittschuh's strength lies in set plays and defending in the air. Given the job of relaying the ball to the forwards, they failed miserably.

Hugo Perez, the team's best player, who is both a playmaker and a potential scorer, did not play against El Salvador because of a groin pull, but is expected to play Sunday.

One thing no one can complain about in recent games - or at least since the May 13 game in which the Americans allowed Trinidad and Tobago to tie the score with only two minutes left - is the team's solid play on defense. It has allowed only three goals in seven games.