CONCACAF Futsal Championship
U.S. takes Group B with 3-2 victory over Mexico.
Bowers’ dramatic game-winner came just 54 seconds after a dreadful giveaway in their own end saw the U.S. allow an equalizer from Mexican forward Victor Huerta. Awarded a free kick 13 meters straight out from goal, Bowers hammered a low drive off the inside of Mexican ‘keeper Abel Treppmann’s right post.
The U.S. Futsal Team moved one step closer to defending its CONCACAF Title won in 1996 as it captured the Group B Title with a hard-fought 3-2 victory tonight over Mexico in the final first round game of the 2000 edition of the CONCACAF Championship at the Palacio de los Deportes Arena.
The victory means the U.S. will face Cuba in Thursday’s first semifinal, while Mexico will face host Costa Rica. The winners advance to Saturday’s final and earn an entry to the FIFA Futsal World Championship in Guatemala to be held later this year.
Matt Tirschmann (Milwaukee Wave, NPSL) gave the U.S. a quick start in the fourth minute, his wicked left-footed blast on an angle finished off a fine passing sequence. But the disciplined Mexican defense began to frustrate the Americans, and the Tricolores began to create counter opportunities.
Mexico evened the score at one with a penalty kick goal by defender Jose Montiel in the ninth minute of play after U.S. defender Glenn Carbonara (Milwaukee Wave, NPSL) was called for a questionable handball inside the penalty area. Montiel took full advantage of the call and scored the first goal allowed by the U.S. in the tournament.
The goal broke an impressive streak of shutouts. Since the inception of the U.S. program in 1986, the National Futsal Team has recorded four shutouts. Three of those have come over their last four matches, two of which have been played within the last four days.
Lee Tschantret (Detroit Rockers, NPSL) put the U.S. back in the lead in the 28th minute off a through ball pass from Suarez beat the Mexican ‘keeper Treppmann in a one-on-one for the 2-1 advantage
Mexico began to pressure the USA defense in order to create mistakes in search of the equalizer. The pressure paid off as Mexican forward Meir Kastro intercepted a sloppy pass from the U.S. defense in the 36th minute and sent a ball to an oncoming teammate, Victor Huerta, who then blasted a shot past American Goalkeeper Otto Orf (Cleveland Crunch, NPSL) for the 2-2 score.
After Bowers notched the game-winner, the U.S. defense held its own against a fierce Mexican attack that searched for the tying goal, but it wouldn't come.
"One of our goals in this tournament was to play excellent defense and to give up only one goal a game," said Head Coach Keith Tozer. "To give up only two goals in three games, states that you are playing great defense. I'm proud of the way the team played and pressured its opponent when needed. We scored some key goals in this game and that is why we deserved to win tonight."
Joshua Bicentini scored a pair of goals, giving him three for the tournament for the team from the Dutch islands.
Puerto Rico’s hopes were truly dashed just before the end of the first half, when star Raphel Ortiz was booked twice within two minutes, ending his play in the match. Netherlands Antilles' took full opportunity of the two-minute man-advantage to send his team into halftime with a 3-0 lead that was not challenged.
United States 3, Mexico 2Lineups: United States - Otto Orf, Sean Bowers (Captain), Jeff Davis, Wes Wade, Brian Loftin, Subs: Glenn Carbonara, Josh Timbers, Bernie Lilavois, Temoc Suarez, Matt Tirschman, Lee Tschantret. Mexico - Abel Treppmann (Captain), Victor Huerta, Jesus Torres, Leonardo Morales, Francisco Ramirez; Subs: Jose Montiel, Abraham Sofer, Jesus Rodriguez, Salomon Alfille, Meir Kastro, Raul Sidaui.
Shots: United States 30, Mexico 16. Shots on goal: United States 11, Mexico 10. Saves: United States 8, Mexico 9. Corner kicks: United States 4, Mexico 6. Fouls: United States 7, Mexico 7. Yellow card caution: United States - Suarez 24, Tschantret 33; Mexico - Montiel 29, Kastro 33.
Referee: Alex Alfaro (United States), Olger Linares (Costa Rica). Attendance: 380 at Palacio de los Deportes in Heredia, Costa Rica. Weather: n/a.