March 27: Clint Mathis scored two goals for the United States in a 4-2 loss to Germany in Rostock, touching off speculation that he would be snapped by a European club before the World Cup.
Like milquetoasts in red, white and blue, Bruce Arena's men wilted against waves of Germans attacks. Only Clint Mathis could pierce the Teutonic armor.
In the stands sat Bayern Munich brass, who revealed interest in the Georgia striker.
He became the first American male soccer player to grace Sports Illustrated's cover in eight years. But Arena didn't embrace the sharpshooter as did the media, who relished reporting on the free-wheeling star. Mathis sat on the bench for the U.S. World Cup win against Portugal. Arena questioned Mathis' work ethic. Mathis portrayed himself as a party man to the American press - which German journalists read and relayed.
''Two kegs in his cellar,'' reported Yahoo! Deutschland. ''Is this how a professional should live? Cola for breakfast, hamburgers all the time, beer and parties at night? ... Is this a man for Bayern?''
Mathis returned to the MetroStars, was red-carded in a crucial game, and Coach Octavio Zambrano recommended he see a psychologist.
Mathis admitted it was time to mature. When Arena called in his troops for the year's last game in November, he named Mathis captain and hailed his attitude.
''I'm no longer the younger guy like I was for the past few years,'' said Mathis.
by Soccer America Editors