Figuratively speaking, Team America forward Alan Green lost his head when he took off his shoe and threw it at referee Robert Evans in the second half of tonight's game with the Chicago Sting.
But then, with 72 seconds to play in overtime, Green, 34, used his head to score the goal that gave Team America a 2-1 victory.
"In soccer the second counts," said Team America Coach Alkis Panagoulias. "In a situation such as this, whichever team scores the goal is the lucky one. Tonight the shortest guy on the team scored on a beautiful header."
"Andrew Parkinson saw me alone at the far post," said Green, who is 5 feet 9. "He crossed the ball and bent it away from the goalkeeper (Victor Nogueira). All I had to do was stick it away."
Team America won its fifth in six games before a crowd of 16,101, largest turnout of the North American Soccer League season in Chicago.
It was an uphill struggle. Chicago dominated the first half, taking the lead at 34:20 when Karl-Heinz Granitza scored his fourth goal of the season and the 101st of his NASL career.
The goal was set up by Ricardo Alonso, the Sting's leading scorer, and it was one of three extraordinary opportunities he had in the first half. Alonso broke through the defense to take an open kick from the near left. The ball slammed off the right post and landed at Granitza's left foot for the soccer equivalent of a dunk.
At 40:51, Team America tied with a facsimile of Granitza's goal. Pedro DeBrito sent a shot off the right post and Parkinson kicked in the rebound.
Thereafter, it was a defensive duel, a game that went according to Panagoulias' plan.
"The main thing for our team is to have initial success," he said. "I must convince those guys they can win. What American players do best is play defensively. So, we are conservative on defense and we counterattack to win."
At times, Team America got carried away with playing defense. The yellow card of caution Green got for the shoe-slinging episode at 69:25 was one of four that Evans handed out to the men in red, white and blue. Chicago got two, both in the second half.
"As a player, I'm proud to be a member of Team America," said goalie Arnold Mausser. "We battle. We don't play the most attractive soccer, but the way we play is working. International soccer is defense--look at the way Italy plays.
"Chicago has probably the best attack in the league. Yet we were able to stop Alonso and Granitza and (Ingo) Peter and (Pato) Margetic."
Earlier, Team America's attempt to send Mausser back to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in exchange for midfielder-forward Hugo Perez was called off by both teams and the NASL.
"The league did not approve the deal because of the clause which would have permitted Team America to recall Mausser at any time for the remainder of the 1983 NASL season if fellow Team America goalkeeper Paul Hammond was injured," the Washington-based club's Vice President Jim Henderson said.
"The league would have permitted the movement of Mausser and Perez only until the July 25 trading deadline, but we said, 'We can't do that,' and the deal was off."