U.S. wins friendly Wynalda doesn't welcome switch

Top U.S. scorer moved from forward to midfielder

January 25, 1998|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The top American goal scorer in international play was perplexed yesterday, even as the United States made a successful 1998 debut.

Eric Wynalda, who has 31 international goals, has been switched to midfield from forward by coach Steve Sampson. "And he said it's not subject to change," Wynalda said after the United States' 1-0 victory over Sweden in a friendly before 12,773 at the Florida Citrus Bowl. It was the first of about 15 preparation matches the team will play before the World Cup begins in June.

"I guess I'd better spend the next three days running up hills," Wynalda added. "I've played forward my entire life. This is like asking someone who's good at running the 200 meters to run 800."

Sampson's idea was to put veteran Roy Wegerle in the 28-year-old Wynalda's spot and to have Wynalda be an attacking midfielder, giving the United States more offense. At least one of the moves looked good yesterday: Wegerle scored the game's only goal and has scored in the United States' last three games.

"My job is to score, and I plan to continue what I'm put out there to do," Wegerle said.

Wegerle scored in the second minute when Joe-Max Moore outmaneuvered Swedish defender Johan Mjaliby to the ball and punched it to an open area 40 feet from the net. Wegerle seized it and angled left, as goalkeeper Magnus Kihlstedt left his post in pursuit.

Wegerle's left-footed shot found the net, just ahead of defender Teddy Lucic's diving attempt at a stop.

"Roy has a drive and enthusiasm for the game right now that I haven't seen in a long time," Sampson said. "He has shown he can be a great asset to us."

Wynalda, meanwhile, did not leave the bench until the second half, when he replaced midfielder Cobi Jones.

Sweden, which did not qualify for this year's World Cup after a third-place finish in 1994, started six players who were making their international debuts.

NOTE: U.S. captain and midfielder John Harkes said Sheffield Wednesday of the English Premier League wants his services until the end of the season. Harkes, who has led D.C. United to two Major League Soccer championships, has made 84 appearances and scored six goals for the United States. "There is an offer that they [Wednesday] will make to Major League Soccer," Harkes said. "Obviously, this is a challenge for me. I would love to go back to England and play with the best players in the world. I wish it had happened during the off-season."

Pub Date: 1/25/98

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