International soccer moved indoors for the first time Saturday and the sky didn't fall in.
Nothing was different, really, under the teflon roof of the Pontiac Silverdome. The ball even bounced, as usual, into the net of Germany's opponent.
Germany, the World Cup champion, beat England 2-1 on the grass field installed over the floor of the Silverdome. A crowd of 62,126 _ the largest for a soccer game in the United States since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics _ saw Stefan Effenberg and Jurgen Klinsmann score as the Germans won U.S. Cup '93 with a 2-0-1 record.
"The grass was perfect," said Klinsmann, the tournament MVP with four goals. "We never expected it in such perfect condition."
Soccer officials believe grass fields indoors could become an innovation in Europe and showed off modern technology in the Silverdome, one of nine sites for next year's World Cup. The field consisted of 1,988 pieces of sod installed at a cost of about $2-million; it will be removed and preserved for four games in next year's tournament.
"It was just like playing on a normal grass field," said England captain David Platt, who scored his country's goal. "The ball held up a little, but I think that was because it was very dry."
It was 78 degrees with 74 percent humidity outside the unairconditioned dome on a gray and drizzly day, and it seemed hotter inside. The heat didn't affect the result, though, as Germany improved to 9-2-2 against England since a loss in the 1966 World Cup final.
"This field behaves like any other grass pitch I've played on," German forward Karlheinz Riedle said.
With English fans chanting, the game had the international atmosphere expected for the 52-game World Cup. Klinsmann implied it also was a bit circus-like.
"It has a nice, popcorn taste," he said. "You can feel like there is popcorn around."
England isn't in such a festive mood these days with three losses and three ties in its past six games. It may not even qualify for the World Cup.
"Result-wise we lost, but I think we had a lot of successful play today," England coach Graham Taylor said.
Taylor has been criticized for poor results, especially 2-0 losses to Norway and the United States, and some are calling for him to be fired.
"It won't turn out to be my last game," he said.
Effenberg put Germany ahead in the 26th minute with his fifth goal in 21 international games, beating defender Gary Pallister and goalkeeper Nigel Martyn on a pass from Lothar Matthaus.
Platt tied it five minutes later with his 20th goal in 42 games for England. Paul Ince's pass got by defender Michael Schulz and Platt beat goalkeeper Bodo Illgner, who was playing only his second game for Germany since the European Championship last June.
Klinsmann got the go-ahead goal seven minutes into the second half. Christian Ziege got by Des Walker and his shot hit the left post. Klinsmann put the rebound into the open net, his 17th goal in 51 games.
In years to come, though, the details won't be remembered, only that international soccer on grass made a successful debut indoors.
U.S. Cup '93
Team W L T GF GA Pts
Germany 2 0 1 9 7 5
Brazil 1 0 2 6 4 4
United States 1 2 0 5 6 2
England 0 2 1 2 5 1