Frankie Hejduk was loose against Germany when almost all other U.S. players tightened up.
Why?Because he didn't think too much.
"If you look at it, you overwhelm yourself and psyche yourself out a little bit," he said Wednesday as the Americans prepared for Sunday's politically charged game against Iran.
Some American players whined and complained after the 2-0 loss to the Germans. Hejduk, a surfer dude who found his way onto the soccer field, was among those pushing for the team to attack from the start.
"There's no more ties for us," he said. "We can't afford to tie anyone. We have to throw as many people as we can forward. That takes a lot of running from everyone on the team to get four, five guys in the box."
Players vented their frustration and coach Steve Sampson tossed some barbs back, too, as the U.S. soccer suddenly sounded like a pro team under pressure.
Eric Wynalda, the starting forward, was a non-factor against the Germans, saying he never had the ball in a scoring situation and it was the first time in 101 international games he never took one single shot.
"Everything was in place for Eric to grasp the opportunity" Sampson responded. "When Frankie got in, he got off a shot, didn't he? Can you imagine how much work it took to get to the near post? Tab Ramos got off a shot. Brian Maisonneuve created situations for himself. I think it's all a matter of how badly you want it."
Players said some Americans were hanging their heads in practice Tuesday night and Wednesday, and that it took some motivational talk from Alexi Lalas to get them going.