Steve Zungul scored 419 goals in five years in the Major Indoor Soccer League, but, surprisingly, his lack of scoring last night may have been the difference in the Golden Bay Earthquakes' 1-0 win over Team America before 10,302 at RFK Stadium.
Zungul's presence near Team America's goal occupied two and three defenders for most of the North American Soccer League game. While Zungul was being shadowed, Stan Terlecki shook free for a 20-foot shot at 86:45 that beat goalkeeper Paul Hammond to the long side.
"Steve is one of the brightest stars in soccer, and that is good for the rest of us," said Terlecki, a former member of the Polish national team. "To have two or three guys covering him is very helpful. The rest of us have more room to play."
Terlecki spent the past two seasons with the Pittsburgh Spirit of the MISL and hadn't played outdoors since 1981. Last night, he took a short pass from Zungul at the 35-yard line and faked to his right, drawing defender Rudy Glenn out of position. Terlecki then switched to his left foot and beat Hammond with a sinking shot that slipped inside the lower right corner of the goal.
"My old coach always said, 'No shot, no goal' ", said Terlecki, who has two goals this season. "That was the third time I tried that shot, and I am happy it went in. This is a good win for us. The season is still new, and we need confidence."
Team America defender Bruce Savage, who kept Terlecki in check most of the night, felt the defense's preoccupation with Zungul was justified.
"We overplayed him, but you have to give him a lot of attention," said Savage. "He's very smart. Zungul tries to make you forget he's there, and then suddenly he comes up with the ball."
"Zungul makes you guard him," said Team America captain Jeff Durgan. "I wish he was American."
Zungul got off only five shots, but twice tested Hammond with shots against the grain in the first half. His best scoring opportunity came in the ninth minute, when Terlecki's left-side cross found Zungul alone in front of the goal. But Zungul got off a weak 15-foot header that Hammond stopped on one hop.
Until Terlecki's goal, Team America had carried the play. Although the Earthquakes held a 23-22 advatage in shots, Team America's were more dangerous. Forwards Tony Crescitelli and Andrew Parkinson threatened with headers off crosses, but Team America's inability to finish, a continuing problem, again hurt its chances.
"I don't know what it is. We just can't finish," said Crescitelli, who had six shots. "I thought we outplayed Golden Bay, but I missed chances, Sonny (Askew) missed chances, Chico (Borja) missed chances. I'm worried."
Team America (3-3), playing its fifth game in nine days, remained tied for second place in the Southern Division. Golden Bay, coming off a 5-1 loss in New York Wednesday, is 2-1 and in third place in the Western Division.
Team America repeatedly tested goalkeeper Bill Irwin, a member of the Washington Diplomats from 1978-80, forcing him to make six saves. Hammond, who has allowed three goals this season, came into last night's game with a league-leading 0.48 goals-against average; he made 11 saves.