When Dan Canter lined up the penalty kick that gave Team America a 1-0 overtime victory Tulsa Saturday night, both he and goalkeeper Winston DuBose knew where the ball was going. At Team America's tryout camp in February, Canter had practiced penalty kicks against DuBose and always went for the lower left corner.
"Winston knew where it was going. He didn't have to guess," said Canter, whose shot narrowly beat DuBose and ended Team America's two-game losing streak.
"I thought about switching feet or trying something different. But if you hit the ball right, no goalie can stop it."
Team America was awarded the penalty kick when defender Jerf Durgan's header with 2:34 left in the second overtime was disallowed by referee Al Kleinaitis, who instead called a hand ball on Tulsa defender Adam Krupa.
Canter, a defender who also scored on a penalty kick while on a Latin American tour with the national team in March, scored his first goal this season and the second of his career. Team America's anemic offense has produced eight goals this season, third-lowest in the league.
"Every team goes through periods when they aren't scoring," said Canter. "We're creating chances, but just not scoring. It's when you don't create chances that you should worry."
Along with the back line, which easily took Tulsa out of its above-the-ground game, Team America also got good defensive play from Arnie Mausser in goal.
Mausser was sidelined in preseason with a rib injury and has since played in only three games. But he made four saves, including a diving stop off a free kick from behind a Tulsa screen late in the game.
"I am very happy with the defense," said Team America Coach Alkis Panagoulias. "Arnie made some very nice saves, and he came out well on the high balls. He also communicated with the defense."
"That was the most vocal I've ever seen Arnie," said Canter.
Team America outshot the Roughnecks, 11-10, but the game's tempo was dictated by the officials. Seventy-four fouls were called, including a team-record 44 on Tulsa, which now has 81 in its last two games.
The Roughnecks also caught Team America 15 times with an offside trap defense.
Team America now has the only non-losing record (4-4) in the Southern Division, but is in third place with 28 points.
After playing seven games in the last three weeks, Team America will now gear up for a three-game homestand, including games against division rivals Tampa Bay Thursday and Fort Lauderdale Sunday. The Cosmos will play at RFK Stadium on June 17.
"We must win these games. They are very important," said Panagoulias. "We have not played so well lately because we were very tired. But I will be very disappointed if we don't take advantage of this situation."