RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Marthell Vazquez (Long Beach, Calif./Virginia Beach, Va.) scored three goals and Josh McKinney (Raleigh, N.C..) and Josh Blue (Denver, Colo.) added two goals apiece to lead the USA men’s soccer 7-a-side team to a 7-0 victory over Venezuela today at the Parapan American Games.
With the victory, USA finishes pool play with a 1-1 record and will face Argentina (2-0) in the crossover game on Thursday at 12 p.m. at the Deodoro Sports Complex. Venezuela was playing its first match of the Parapan Am Games and faces Brazil (1-0) Wednesday to conclude pool play.
USA scored all seven of its goals in the first half. McKinney put the Americans on the board three minutes into the match after taking a pass from Vazquez and powering a straight-on shot past Argentina goal keeper Carlos Carrasquel.
It was the first of back-to-back goals for McKinney, as he added another goal on USA’s next possession.
Blue quickly put USA ahead, 3-0, taking a pass from Chris Ahrens (Baldwinsville, N.Y./Virginia Beach, Va.) and sending the ball inside the left post in the fifth minute of play.
In the 12th minute of play, McKinney found a wide-open Blue, who tapped the ball in just inside the right post to put USA up, 4-0.
Vazquez scored all three of his goals in a four minute span late in the first half. His first goal came in the 20th minute of play, and he added another at the 23-minute mark. Vazquez then completed the hat trick with a goal in the 24th minute of play to put USA up, 7-0, going into halftime.
“It was good that we got a goal early and were able to build upon that,” USA coach Jay Hoffman (Virginia Beach, Va.) said. “Sometimes in these types of games, you get away from enforcing good habits because it comes easy, but we tried to do the right thing. I wanted to make sure they did that. Hopefully it gives them some confidence to build upon for the next couple of rounds, the crossover game, the semifinals and the finals.
With the commanding lead, Hoffman took the opportunity to get some of USA’s younger players on the field, including Tommy Latsch (Euclid, Ohio), Shaun Schetka (New Brighton, Pa.) and Jason Slemons (Eagle River, Alaska/Seattle, Wash.). Although USA didn’t score in the second half, the Americans gained some experience and confidence, while also keeping Venezuela scoreless.
“The good news is that we were able to give some of our younger players some international experience,” Hoffman said. “That was the most important thing coming out of here. Plus they did quite well with it. What we talked about at half time, they tried to execute and make happen, so that was nice to see.
“It worked out well in the sense that we got a lot of opportunities. We just didn’t finish anything off, but it certainly gave these guys some confidence.”
USA had 21 shots on goal, 36 shots overall during the match. Venezuela was held to only three shots in the entire match and was denied from taking any shots on goal.
“Our play off the ball today was a lot better today,” Hoffman said. “We had a meeting last night and talked about maintaining possession. Having spoken about it, this time we had a chance to do it, and hopefully we built some confidence, because we will end up playing Argentina. If we can carry that through, then that gives us some opportunities for the semifinals and the finals.”