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U.S. Futsal National Team Arrives in Brazil in Preparation for World Cup

ARRIVAL IN BRAZIL: The U.S. Futsal National Team touched down in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday morning, with preparations beginning in earnest ahead of the kickoff of the FIFA Futsal World Cup on Sept. 30. Keith Tozer's team begins Group B action against Paraguay at 11:30 a.m. ET on Sept. 30, and the 14-man squad will train in Rio leading up to the first game.

U.S. Futsal National Team Roster By Position (A detailed roster is available at
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jeff Richey (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Nick Vorberg (Grants Pass, Ore.);
DEFENDERS (2): Joe Hammes (Cedarburg, Wis.), Pat Morris (Philadelphia, Pa.);
MIDFIELDERS (6): Denison Cabral (Florianópolis Brazil), Andrew Jacobsen (Palo Alto, Calif.), Ptah Myers (Columbus, Ohio), Sandre Naumoski (Philadelphia, Pa.), Andy Rosenband (Hammond, Ind.), Matthew Stewart (El Paso, Texas);
FORWARDS (4): Mike Apple (Akron, Ohio), Jamar Beasley (Fort Wayne, Ind.), Chile Farias (Los Angeles, Calif.), Brett Wiesner (Brookfield, Wis.).

TOZER ON THE ROSTER: Earlier this month, U.S. Futsal National Team head coach Keith Tozer named a 14-man squad for the FIFA Futsal World Cup. With a squad that features a dynamic mix of futsal veterans and newcomers, Tozer believes that his team has the talent to improve upon the U.S.' seventh place finish in 2004. Listen to the U.S. Futsal National Team head coach talk about his World Cup squad here.

GROUP B – SOME FAMILIAR FOES: The United States kicks off its FIFA Futsal World Cup on Sept. 30 against Paraguay, before turning around two days later to face Italy on Oct. 2. Coincidentally the U.S. faced both those teams in its opening two games of the 2004 World Cup, albeit in the reverse order. After its opening victory over the U.S. four years ago, the Italians went on to finish second in the tournament. The U.S. meanwhile, rebounded to beat Panama en route to its qualification for the second round. In Thailand, the U.S. finds an opponent that is on the rise in the world of Futsal. The War Elephants, as they are known, finished second in this year's AFC Championship and will be participating in their third FIFA Futsal World Cup in Brazil. Portugal, since qualifying for its first FIFA Futsal World Cup in 2000, has vaulted itself into the upper echelons of world Futsal. After finishing fourth in the UEFA Futsal Championship in 2007 and breezing through qualifying earlier this year, the Portuguese arrive at the FIFA Futsal World Cup as a side with high hopes for the tournament.

Group B

Date           Matchup                              City                              Time (ET)
Sept. 30     Italy vs. Thailand               Rio de Janeiro          9:30 a.m.
                    Paraguay vs. USA             Rio de Janeiro         11:30 a.m.
Oct. 2         Portugal vs. Paraguay      Rio de Janeiro          9:30 a.m.
                   USA vs. Italy                        Rio de Janeiro          11:30 a.m.
Oct. 4         Thailand vs. USA               Rio de Janeiro          9:30 a.m.
                    Italy vs. Portugal                Rio de Janeiro          11:30 a.m.
Oct. 6         Portgual vs. USA                Rio de Janeiro          9:30 a.m.
                    Thailand vs. Paraguay     Rio de Janeiro          11:30 a.m.    
Oct. 8          Italy vs. Paraguay              Rio de Janeiro         11:30 a.m.
                    Portugal vs. Thailand       Brasilia                      11:30 a.m.

EXPANDING THE POOL: For the first time ever, 20 nations will contest the FIFA Futsal World Cup and the participants have been split up into four groups of five teams. That means the U.S. will play four first round games, a slight difference from the traditional four-team groups of most major tournaments. The top two teams in each group advance to the second round, where an additional group phase commences. From there, the top two teams in groups E and F are placed into the semifinals, with the winners contesting the FIFA Futsal World Cup Final in Rio de Janeiro on October 19.

HISTORY LESSON: The U.S. is competing in its fifth FIFA Futsal World Cup, with its first appearance coming at the inaugural tournament in 1989 where the Americans finished third. In 1992, the U.S. returned to the world stage, besting its performance from three years ago to finish second. Losing 4-1 in the final to Brazil, the 1992 team posted the best finish of any U.S. men's team at a FIFA competition a record which still stands.

HOW WE QUALFIED: The U.S. qualified for the FIFA Futsal World Cup by virtue of its third place finish in the CONCACAF Futsal Championship. Midfielder Matthew Stewart lead the U.S. with five goals in the tournament, while goalkeepers Jeff Richey and Nick Vorberg split time in the nets. After finishing on top of its group, the U.S. came up against the host nation, Guatemala. A crowd of around 7,000 people packed the Domo Polideportivo in Guatemala City, while thousands more watched on TV screens outside the complex. The atmosphere was both jaw-dropping and hostile, and eventually the home side's advantage told, with Guatemala winning, 4-0. The U.S. picked itself up off the ground and handily defeated Panama, grabbing third place in the tournament and a berth in the FIFA Futsal World Cup.

BEEN THERE BEFORE: The U.S. team has had the privilege of traveling to Brazil multiple times in the past year, including for the 2007 Pan American Games where they finished in fifth place. The most recent visit to Brazil came during an early September raining camp when the U.S. traveled to Criciúma and Florianópolis. Keith Tozer's side played four games against local club sides as part of preparation for upcoming World Cup.

SUPER SENDOFF: After returning stateside in mid-september, the U.S. played a series of games at the Kern Center in Milwaukee. Hosting NY Ecuador FC, a club side from the east coast, and the Japanese National Team, themselves fellow World Cup participants, the U.S. finished the weekend with an impressive 3-0-1 record. On Friday and Sunday, the U.S. played two hard-fought games against Japan, tying 4-4 and winning 2-1 in front of a spirited crowd in Milwaukee.

RETURN OF THE BLOG: The U.S. Soccer Blogs have been all over the world to cover World Cups of all shapes and sizes. Now, the Blog ventures south of the equator for the first time, going behind the scenes with the Futsal National Team during the sixth FIFA Futsal World Cup in Brazil. Things may be a bit different – after all there are only five players playing on a court at a time – but you can still rely on the same daily updates that you have come to expect from the Blog. Follow the action in Rio here.