Having successfully slugged their way through a back alley brawl Thursday night against El Salvador, the confident United States junior soccer team is prepared for anything in tonight's 8 o'clock quarterfinal contest against once-beaten Bermuda in RFK Stadium.
The U.S. team has been steady if not spectacular in its four straight victories over Eastern Zone countries in the World Youth Soccer Championship qualifying tournament.
The Americans have scored 13 goals and allowed only one in defeating Barbados (5-0), Netherlands-Antilles (3-0), el Salvador (2-0) and Antigua (3-1), the last in a game Saturday in Princeton, N.J. Netherlands-Antilles plays Honduras tonight at 6.
The most satisfying and undoubtedy the most painful, victory for the U.S. team came in a brutal game with El Salvador.
The major casualty was Darryl Gee of Columbua, Md. The 18-year-old prep star who recently signed with the NASL's New York Cosmos, had his ankle kicked and stomped by an El Salvador player after Gee had out-dribbled his opponent into the goal area.
Gee, who had severly sprained the anle six weeks ago, will not play tonight but may be able to in Friday's semifinal, also in RFK at 8 p.m., if the U.S. advances.
Midfielder John Stollmeyer, from Annandale and Jefferson High School, had five teeth knocked loose by his El Salvador marker that only braces kept them in his mouth. Stollmeyer swears his opponent hit him intentionally. k
"The guy just looked at me, turned around, then all of a sudden swung an elbow right into my mouth," said Stollmeyer, 17, a stocky all-America. "Two of the teeth and maybe three would have been knocked all the way out of my mouth if it hadn't been for my braces.
"I was more in shock than pain at the time, to just have a guy turn and swing on you. It wasn't physical. It was brutal."
"It was your basic war," said U.S. Coach Walt Chyzowych.
The El Salvador coach was suspended for three games and two of his players suspended, one for a game and the other for a year, by the tournament's technical committee.
The player suspended for a year had received a red card for intentionally tackling a U.S. player, or two. As he was leaving the field, he slugged 16-year-old forward Tom Kain in front of the U.S. bench.
"It was a sucker punch," Chyzowych said. "I had to scream to Tommy and the team not to kill the guy so we wouldn't all get thrown out, not on that offense at least. But there were some other times. . . ."
Stollmeyer said the El Salvador players began spitting, kicking, tackling and elbowing as soon as the U.S. scored its first goal midway into the first 40-minute half.
The U.S. was about to extend its lead when Gee was mugged in front of the El Salvador goal crease.
Gee's absence, as a local star, may be felt at the gate more than on the field.
"We're going to miss Darryl, no question," said the team captain, Bill McKeon," Gee's teammate on the U.S. Olympic squad. "But this team has excellent forwards in Kevin Fauser, Tommy Cain and Peter Skouras. Our man-to-man system isn't designed to go to any one person up front."
More than 10,000 are expected to attened tonight's quarterfinal double-header, with the two winners advancing to Friday's semifinal and those winners to Sunday's "final" in Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Both of the latter teams will be in next year's Junior World Cup Championship in Australia.
The Americans, for the first time ever, are expected to be there. They figure to beat Bermuda, but may have much more trouble with Honduras, the probable winner in the first game.
Chyzowych said he expects a rough, but not brutal, game against Bermuda, which switches back and forth from a European style of ball control to a Carribbean propensity for long passes, quck shots from anywhere and bursts of counterattacks.
Chyzowych skipped Sunday's game, a win over weak Antigua, to scout Bermuda in Edwardsville, Ill., where the West Zone is holding its qualifying bracket. Bermuda won, 6-2.
"They proved they could score," Chyzowych said. "But they proved they could be scored on, too."
Bermuda can't expect the same about the U.S. Its defense has been only a shade less than flawless.
The only goal scored against the Americans came Sunday when Chyzowych was resting his first string and playing his younger, less experienced players. w
McKeon, the rangy sweeperback, said Chyzowych's man-to-man defense is the reason for the defensive success so far.
"These Latin American teams like to dribble a lot and turn with the ball toward the goal," McKeon explained. "But our man-to-man plays them extremely tight. We try to deny them the ball and not give them room to back into us."
Said goalkeeper Craig Scarpelli, who has not allowed a goal in three games, "My defenders have more than taken care of me. In three games I've probably handled only about 10 shots, and only one of those was tough. El Salvador got off one tough shot at me. After that save, nothing."
One more "nothing" and the Americans will have defied the odds and gained the championships in Australia.