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U.S. National Futsal Team Draws Japan, 4-4, in Thrilling Game in Milwaukee

Milwaukee (Sept. 12, 2008) - The U.S. National Futsal Team played Japan to a 4-4 draw in front of a spirited crowd at the Kern Center in Milwakee, Wis. A Japan tying goal with just seconds left in the game made for a tough end to a busy day for the U.S. team, who defeated club side NY Ecuador FC, 10-1, earlier in the morning.

Japan was always going to be a stern test for Keith Tozer's side, and the U.S. head coach looked at the game in terms of of the team's growth ahead of the FIFA Futsal World Cup, which begins later this month.

"An experience like this is invaluable for our team," said Tozer. "We scored four really nice goals and I thought we defended really well at times throughout the game. There were a lot of positives to take and we'll dwell on those heading into the rest of the weekend."

The U.S. took the game to their opponents early on. The match's high tempo allowed the U.S. to dictate the pace to Japan in the first few minutes of the game, and eventually the pressure told.

A neat passing move in the 6th minute culminated in Chile Farias feeding Matthew Stewart near the edge of the Japanese penalty area. Stewart took one touch before executing an outrageous chip over the onrushing Hisamitsu Kawahara and into the Japan goal.

The U.S. continued its promising start, and after 14 minutes the home side doubled the advantage. A foul eight yards from goal setup an ideal free kick situation for the U.S., and Tozer elected to use a time out to draw up a play for his charges.

From the restart, Sandre Naumoski found Farias slicing through the penalty area, and his neat first touch eluded a defender before the forward finished clinically at the near post.

Most of Japan's players are members of professional futsal clubs in their homeland, and thus the Japanese are a side with much experience. That savvy was apparent when they responded to the two goal deficit almost immediately. In the 15th minute, Daisuke Ono found Yoshifumi cutting across the middle and his unstoppable shot cut the lead in half.

Two minutes later, the visitors were level with Kotaro Inaba doing the damage. The dynamic Inaba, a thorn in the U.S.' side all night, took Kawahara's throw in stride and unleashed a rasping shot into the low far post corner.

The scoring in the first period was not over, and Mike Apple put the U.S. ahead again in the 18th minute. However, Japan was unfazed, and Inaba equalized again following an excellent individual effort.

The halftime score was 3-3, with both teams knowing full well that the goals were unlikely to be finished for the night. Sure enough, after coming out reenergized in the second period, the U.S. again took the lead.

Once more it was a dead ball situation that provided the breakthrough, with Joe Hammes backheel setting up Pat Morris for a clear shot at goal. Morris' blast was never going to be saved, and after 23 minutes the U.S. had restored its advantage.

The U.S. tried to put the clamps on the Japanese attack and U.S. goalkeeper Brett Phillips repelled a series of difficult chances from the visitors. However, Inaba continued to cause problems and only the post came to Phillips' rescue in the 27th minute.

In the 36th minute, Japan opted for a sixth attacker but still Brazilian Sergio Sapo's team could not find the desired breakthrough. Shot after shot flew wide of the U.S. goal but eventually the pressure would prove to be too much. 

With just seconds to go, Yuki Kanayama squared the ball across the goal for Maeda who composed himself to tap in the equalizer.

In the end, the buzzer called time on what was probably a fair result for the teams, both of whom will be participating in the FIFA Futsal World Cup starting later this month. The U.S. kicks off it's World Cup campaign on Sept. 30, having been drawn into Group B with along with Italy, Portugal, Thailand and Paraguay.

"We were thinking three points and ended up with one point. It's something that we'll hopefully learn from when we go [to Brazil for the FIFA Futsal World Cup]," said Tozer who, despite the draw, stressed the numerous encouraging points on the night. One of those was the buoyant atmosphere surrounding the event itself.

"This atmosphere is great and I'm really glad that we have the game here in Milwaukee," said Tozer. "Hopefully the crowd will be here again on Sunday and I think that [everything here tonight] is only great for the game of Futsal."

The U.S. faces Japan again on Sunday, with kickoff at the Kern Center scheduled for 1 p.m.

-- U.S. National Futsal Team Game Report --

Match-up: USA vs. Japan
Date: September 12, 2008
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Kern Center – Milwaukee, Wis.
Kickoff: 6 p.m. CT
Attendance: 250

Scoring Summary:    1    2    F
USA                            3    1    4
JPN                            3    1    4

USA - Matthew Stewart (Chile Farias)          6th minute
USA - Chile Farias (Sandre Naumoski)        14th
JPN - Yoshifumj Maeda (Daisuke Ono)        15th
JPN - Kotaro Inaba (Hisamitsu Kawahara)   17th
USA - Mike Apple (Matthew Stewart)           18th
JPN - Kotaro Inaba                                       18th
USA - Pat Morris (Joe Hammes)                   23rd
JPN - Yoshifumji Maeda (Yuki Kanayama)    40th

USA: 1- Brett Phillips (GK), 5-Denison Cabral (capt.), 6-Chile Farias, 11-Matthew Stewart, 14-Joe Hammes
Subs: 2-Jamar Beasley, 3-Brett Wiesner, 4-Sandre Naumoski, 7-Dan DeGeer, 9-Ptah Myers, 10-Matt Hatzke, 13-Andy Roseband, 17-Pat Morris, 18-Mike Apple,
Head Coach: Keith Tozer

JPN: 1-Hisamitsu Kawahara (GK), 3-Wataru Kitahara, 7-Yuki Kanayama, 9-Daisuke Ono, 11-Kotaro Inaba
Subs: 2-Yoshifumi Maeda, 4-Yusuke Komiyama, 5-Rikanado Higa, 6-Nobuya Osodo, 8-Kenta Fujii (capt.), 12-Hisao Sadanaga (GK),   
Head Coach: Sergio Sapo

Stats Summary: USA / JPN
Shots                           20 / 29
Shots on Goal             10 / 16
Saves                          11 / 6
Corner Kicks                 3 / 4
Fouls                           11 / 5

Misconduct Summary:
JPN - Hisao Sadanaga    23rd minute

Referee: Jason Krnac
2nd Raferee: Shane Butler
Scorer: Tom Mesalk
Timekeeper: Joey Samuelson