The United States junior soccer team advanced to Friday's World Youth Soccer championship semi-final last night by beating Bermuda, 2-1, at RFK Stadium.
But there was little celebrating for the undefeated Americans.
"We couldn't pick out one player that performed well tonight," said U.S. Coach Walt Chyzowych. "They know they didn't play up to potential; I don't have to tell them. We'll have to enormously better to beat Honduras Friday night."
Honduras buried an outmatched Netherland Antilles team, 8-1, in the evening's first game played before less than 3,000 fans.
Chyzowych and his players wre displeased with their performance because they allowed their second goal in five games of the tournament through a mental and tactical breakdown with less than eight minutes left in the game. They also failed to convert several scoring opportunities early in each half, allowing the fast Bermuda squad to stay close.
U.S. midfielder John Stollmeyer scored the game's first goal on a penalty kick at 28:56. Bermuda goalkeeper Anthony Manders had tripped U.S. forward Dave Lischner -- the player who replaced injured Columbia star Darryl Gee -- who was cruising in on a breakaway.
Stollmeyer, a stocky 17-year-old from Annandale and Jefferson High School, blasted the 12-yard kick over Manders' head for a 1-0 lead.
"I practice penalty shots all the time," said Stollmeyer, who had five teeth knocked loose in last week's brutal victory over El Salvador. "Before the game I knew that if there was a penalty shot I would be the one to take it. I was hoping I would do well in front of my family and friends though."
Chyzowych added, "Taking a penalty shot is basically a mental state. Those that have that type of courage, like John, we want to take the shot."
The way the U.S. defense has been playing through the tournament, that goal should have stood up to be the game winner.
Just to make sure, forward Kevin Fouser from Atlanta added what turned out to be the game winner at 52:10 on a blast from five yards in front of the Bermuda net.
"It was just a throw in from stollmeyer from out of bounds," said Fouser, who also felt the team performed poorly. "Bill McKeon hit it off his head and it just came into the middle and I punched it in off my left knee."
"We had a lot of shots and just didn't take them. We should have played better. It'll be awfully tough to beat Honduras playing like this though."
Chyzowych said, "Overall, we just played sluggishly, very slow, not up to our potential. We had early chances to score -- we didn't. We should have blown it open at the beginning of each half -- we didn't. And as a result it was a game when it shouldn't have been.
"But even though we played poorly, it's a good sign that they can win inspite of themselves."
Honduras spotted Netherland Antilles an early 1-0 lead on a penalty kick by Sidney Bito at 13:31.
But it was all Honduras thereafter s Jorge Montenegro and Jose Reyes each scored three goals and Juan Carlos Espinoza talled twice. Reyes' (two goals) and Montenegro teamed up for three quick goals in less than nine minutes midway through the first half as the undefeated Hondurans made the Netherlands team appear almost helpless.
Honduras Coach Carlos Carranna said he has not seen the United States juniors play this year but their defensive reputation has worried him for some days.
"We keep hearing that they ahve a good organization," he said through an interpreter. "They've been well prepared by their coach (Chyzowych). I was hoping not to have to play the U.S. at all. Any team except the U.S. or Mexico."
The U.S. vs. Honduras matchup should prove to be exciting, pitting the extremely fast, offensive-minded Hondurans against the deliberate, defensive ball control style of the Americans.