With red, white and green Italian flags hanging from the balconies and a troop of whistle-blowing Italian seamen roaming the stands, Team America tied Juventus, 1-1, last night before a disappointing crowd of 20,111 at RFK.
Team America, facing a club that features seven stars from the 1982 World Cup champions, surprised Juventus, the fans, and probably itself by taking a 1-0 lead nine minutes into the game on a redirection goal by Chico Borja.
Juventus, which played to a scoreless tie against the Toronto Blizzard Wednesday night, tied the score at 23:50 on a 30-yard shot by Domenico Penzo off an indirect free kick.
"We need these international games," said Team America Coach Alkis Panagoulias, who had faced Juventus numerous times while coaching in Greece. "They are very good for us. We have proven ourselves. A team like Juventus has been together for four, maybe five years. "We are just a 4-month-old baby, but we could have beaten them."
The game did not develop as expected. Paolo Rossi, the hero of Italy's 1982 World Cup championship, played poorly and failed to get off a shot. Rossi was marked closely by defender Dan Canter, and left the game at halftime with a mild ankle sprain.
"In Europe, they don't have center backs like Dan Canter," said Panagoulias. "He can beat any player. I know this team (Juventus) and I made sure my players knew them."
Canter nearly won the game with 24 minutes remaining on a corner kick from Hayden Knight.
Tacconi faced 12 shots and made two saves, but repeatedly failed to take charge in the penalty area. Team America faced 23 shots, and goalkeepers Paul Hammond and Arnie Mausser each played a half, making two saves each.
Juventus midfielder Michel Platini was the dominant player in the game. A member of France's 1982 World Cup squad, Platini assisted on Penzo's goal and later hit the cross bar with a shot from 20 yards.
"This team is certainly better than anything they had five years ago," said Platini, who had a game-high six shots. "Physically they (Team America) were in the game until the last 10 minutes. They were not on our championship level, but they were very good."
Panagoulias started a lineup designed to emphasize size and strength against the smaller Italians, and Team America held a 24-17 advantage in fouls.
Midfielder Rudy Glenn played an extremely physical game and left many Juventus players mumbling before he was ejected with 10 minutes remaining.
Glenn was assessed a yellow card at 30:58 after upending Penzo with a hard tackle. Both players began pushing one another and had to be restrained.
Glenn's ejection came at 79:07 and caused Team America to play with only 10 men for the rest of the game.