Switzerland. . . .1
SET-PLAYS form the essence of so many Stateside sports that fervour-kindling free-kicks made Detroit's uninitiated soccer-watchers feel right at home in their Dome. An opening Group A point represented a boon for the United States, but on Main Street USA sporting draws are unfathomable. In a winner's society, an unresolved contest is as 'exciting as kissing your sister' as they say here.
Yet despite this non-result by American standards the draw showed that Bora Milutinovic's persevering side deserve an element of local and international respect.
Against challenging opposition, the hosts were rarely embarrassed. Switzerland, astutely coached by the Englishman Roy Hodgson, possessed superior players, notably in Ciriaco Sforza and Alain Sutter, and a more thoughtful approach but the American team spirit and eagerness to please an appreciative, perspiring audience was rewarded with their first World Cup point since they left Hodgson's compatriots horizontal in Belo Horizonte 44 years ago. 'They are a hard team to beat,' Hodgson said.
This unity of purpose was strongest in defence, where Alexi Lalasjoined Marcelo Balboa, another alumni of the barbarian school of barbering, in mixing zonal and man-to-man marking to close down Stephane Chapuisat, Switzerland's much-vaunted forward. 'Our communication was great,' Lalas said.
Frustratingly for the charismatic son of Detroit, a midfielder's mistake in the 40th minute exposed Tony Meola's goal. Thomas Dooley's lunge at Sutter occurred in the perfect location for Georges Bregy, at 36 an old soldier, to curl a delightful free-kick over Meola.
Three times at the last World Cup, the US fell behind and stayed behind. Now, as Meola indicated, 'this team is much better than 1990' and parity quickly arrived courtesy of Eric Wynalda's even finer exhibition of dead-ball artistry. Wynalda, a former trialist at Sheffield Wednesday, departed early in the second half, his dynamism diminished by an allergy and the 'Saunadome's' brutal humidity. 'It's like playing in a hot-dog stand,' Hodgson said. After each goal, temperatures in the indoor arena - the first time the World Cup has come inside - jumped two degrees from 93F to 95F.
UNITED STATES (4-4-2): Meola (United States Soccer Federation); Kooiman (Cruz Azul), Lalas, Balboa, Caligiuri (all USSF); Ramos (Real Betis), Dooley, Sorber (both USSF), Harkes (Derby County); Wynalda (Vfl Bochum), Stewart (Willem II Tilburg). Substitutes: Wegerle (Coventry City) for Wyndalda, 57; Jones (USSF) for Stewart, 80.
SWITZERLAND (4-4-2): Pascolo (Servette); Hottiger, Herr, Geiger, Quentin (all Sion); Ohrel (Servette), Sforza (Kaiserslautern), Bregy (Young Boys Berne), Sutter (Nuremberg); Chapuisat (Borussia Dortmund), Bickel (Grasshopper Zurich). Substitutes: Subiat (Lugano) for Bickel, 72; Wyss (Aarau) for Sforza, 76.
Referee: F Lamolina (Argentina).