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Cuba ends World Championship hopes for the U.S. 4-2.

Futsal Championships
HEREDIA, Costa Rica (Thursday, July 27, 2000) -- For the first time since the inception of the program in 1986, the U.S. Futsal Team will not participate at a FIFA World Championship after dropping a heartbreaking 4-2 decision tonight to Cuba in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Tournament at the Palacio de los Deportes Arena. Cuba stunned the United States with a three goal outburst in a five-minute span in the first half, then held on for the victory.

Costa Rica and Cuba will be the CONCACAF's representatives, along with host Guatemala, at the world championships to be held from Nov. 18 - Dec. 3.

"I'm very disappointed that we lost," said Head Coach Keith Tozer. "We have worked three-years for the opportunity to once again go to the world championships, but unfortunately it wasn't our night. This is just something that you have to put behind you and continue to go forward."

Undermanned Cuba scoring run qualified it for the FIFA World Futsal Championship for the second consecutive time, defeating defending Futsal champion U.S. men and denying the Americans’ bid for a third consecutive World Championship appearance.

Using essentially six field players and with backup goalkeeper Pedro Lopez pressed into service after a pair of players reportedly defected, Cuba surprised the U.S. with their pace and discipline on defense often disrupting their rotation in attack.

The U.S. took the lead after just seven minutes, Matt Tirschmann ripping home a shot off a free kick from eight meters past an unsighted Lopez.

But two minutes later, Ernesto Diaz equalized, a failed clearance falling to him in the arc. Juan Portal’s great work in the corner before finding Camilo Kindelan alone at the back post made it 2-1 in the 12th minute, then Lazaro Martinez’s neat back post header off a kick-in made the score 3-1 at the 14 minute mark.

The turning point of the match occured less than two minutes into the second half. A hotly disputed penalty call saw Cuban coach Clemente Reinoso and the Head of Delegation ejected, leaving with Sean Bowers six meters away from cutting the lead to one. With the Costa Rican crowd turning their affection toward the Cubans, Bowers’ penalty was saved, and momentum shifted.

The U.S. continued to pressure the Cuban defense by sending players forward, but were burned off the counter attack as ‘keeper Nogueria had to make several key saves to keep the score at 3-1. The pressure paid off as forward Wes Wade (Kansas City Attack, NPSL) notched the U.S. second goal off a freekick by Tirschman in the 33rd minute for a 3-2 score.

Shortly afterwards, U.S. coach Keith Tozer pulled his goalkeeper for a fifth attacker. But Cuba's Martinez punished that move with a goal from midfield into the empty net in the 38th minute to make the final score 4-2.

The loss snaps the U.S. five-game international unbeaten streak and is the USA's first defeat against a CONCACAF opponent since September 3, 1996 against Cuba 5-3.

"Winning and losing are part of the game," said Alex Para, U.S. Futsal Federation President/Head of Delegation. "It is unfortunate that our first loss in two international tournaments came during this semifinal game and prevented us from qualifying to our fourth consecutive world championship. This is a learning experience that will help our National Futsal program grow."

Costa Rica used the backing of the home crowd and survived a wild finish to defeat Mexico and qualify for the first time for the FIFA World Futsal Championship. The home side carried a 3-1 lead into the halftime interval, saw it cut to one on a double penalty, missed a six-meter penalty of their own, then survived a second double penalty to secure the win.

Costa Rica started strong, Carlos Chaves in particular, and he fittingly scored the first goal in the ninth minute, driving a high shot home from just inside the penalty arc. Juan Valverde then made it 2-0, Jose Carvajal’s shot on the turn hitting the post and coming out the other side, Valverde knocking the rebound into the back of the net.

Mexico cut into the lead when Leonardo Morales took advantage of Costa Rica’s failure to clear a pair of long-range efforts, but Carvajal extended the lead back to two when he turned and ripped a low left-footed shot inside the far corner.

Mexico goalkeeper Abel Treppmann had a spectacular game, keeping his team in the match with a number of world class saves. But until Costa Rica accumulated their sixth foul of the half three minutes from time, Mexico failed to create any quality chances at the other end.

The U.S. will now meet Mexico in the third-place match on Saturday night, while Cuba will take on Costa Rica in the championship finale.

Futsal is a sport derivative of soccer and played with five-man teams on a basketball style court, with no walls and a low bouncing ball. Great soccer superstars such as Pele, Zico and Socrates grew up playing the game and credit Futsal with developing their skills.

Cuba 4, United States 2

Lineups: United States - Victor Nogueria, Sean Bowers (Captain), Jeff Davis, Matt Tirschman, Lee Tschantret; Subs:Glenn Carbonara, Josh Timbers, Bernie Lilavois, Temoc Suarez, Wes Wade, Brian Loftin. Cuba - Pedro Lopez, Adalberto Guerra, Juan Portal (Captain), Camilo Kindelan, Boris Saname; Subs: Ernesto Duane, Ernesto Diaz, Lazaro Martinez.

United States - Tirschmann (Bowers) 7.
Cuba - Diaz (Saname) 9.
Cuba - Kindelan (Portal) 12.
Cuba - Martinez (Kindelan) 14.
United States - Wade (Tirschman) 33.
Cuba - Martinez (unassisted) 38.

Shots: United States n/50a, Cuba 25. Shots on goal: United States 20, Cuba 17. Saves: United States 14, Cuba 18. Corner kicks: United States 10, Cuba 7. Fouls: United States 11, Cuba 5. Yellow card caution: United States - Tschantret 31; Cuba - Saname 36, Martinez 38. Red card ejection: Cuba - Head Coach 22, Head of Delegation 22.

Referee: Carlo Servino (United States), Carlos del Cid (Guatemala). Attendance: 2,500 at Palacio de los Deportes in Heredia, Costa Rica. Weather: n/a.

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