- Howes Scores Game-Winner on Free Kick
- Goalkeeper Brett Phillips Named Tournament MVP
- USA Wins CONCACAF Fair Play Award
HEREDIA, Costa Rica (Saturday, July 31, 2004) - The U.S. National Futsal Team won the CONCACAF Futsal Championship with their continued defensive domination of the region with a 2-0 win over Cuba on Saturday night in the Palacio de los Deportes in Heredia, Costa Rica.
Forwards Greg Howes and Don D'Ambra scored the goals from the U.S. off two set pieces, and goalkeeper Scott Hileman had the shutout in goal with 10 saves, including seven in the second half. Cuba had 23 shots on goal, but at least a dozen more shot attempts were blocked by U.S. defenders.
"It seems like the same old story, they executed the game plan," said head coach Keith Tozer who picked up his 20th career win with the team. "I thought our defense was stellar, and that's how we were going to win this tournament. To have a shutout against Costa Rica in the semifinals and then against Cuba in the final is just a remarkable story. Now we move on to the World Cup."
The U.S. had Cuba had already earned berths to the 2004 FIFA Futsal World Championship by virtue of their semifinal victories on Friday night. USA topped Costa Rica 4-0, while Cuba beat Mexico 5-4.
The U.S. becomes the first team to ever post back to back shutouts in the semifinal and championship matches, and the first to post three shutouts in the entire tournament. With shutouts against Costa Rica and Guyana, U.S. goalkeeper Brett Phillips was named the tournament's most outstanding goalkeeper despite not playing in the final.
Both the U.S. and Cuba started the match playing tough defensively and holding possession on the offensive end, with neither team getting many chances. The U.S. would capitalize first, however, on a set piece with 36 seconds left in the first half. Howes set up to take the free kick for the U.S. and first ran up to the ball with intentions of passing. Then, he backed off and came forward again striking a low shot that went past the Cuba wall and into the lower left corner of the goal from about eight yards out.
"It was a play we had designed to try to get a left footed shot to Danny Kelly," Howes said. "When we lined up they changed their formation. They had one guy in the wall and three guys covering us. I was able to put it low on the ground past the defender and it beat their goalkeeper to the far post. It was a pretty simple decision on my part because it's what they gave me."
In the 26th minute, the U.S. would get an insurance goal on another free kick in the attacking third. Danny Kelly quickly took the restart and found Don D'Ambra unmarked at the top of the penalty area. His first shot was turned away by Cuba goalkeeper Wilfredo Carbo, but the rebound dropped right to D'Ambra in the same spot and he drove a high shot into the back of the net.
In addition to the championship trophy and Phillips' award, the U.S. will bring home a third piece of hardware as captain Sean Bowers, back for the match from a calf injury, accepted the CONCACAF Fair Play trophy during the post-match awards ceremony.
"Obviously the most important thing is the team winning the gold and going to China," Phillips said. "Anything on top of that as far as personal accomplishments are just icing on the cake."
The U.S. finished the tournament with a 3-0-2 record, and this is the USA's second CONCACAF championship in three tries. Defender Pat White was with the team in 1996 when they also beat Cuba in the final. Bowers and Lee Tschantret were the only to players with the team in 2000, when they finished third after losing to Cuba in the semifinals.
Howes led the U.S. in scoring for the tournament with four goals, while Andy Guastaferro finished with three goals - all on penalty kicks.
- U.S. National Futsal Team Game Reports -
Participants: U.S. National Futsal Team vs. Costa Rica
Competition: CONCACAF Futsal Tournament - Gold Medal Match
Location: Palacio de los Deportes
Date: July 31, 2004
1st 2nd Final
Cuba 0 0 0
United States 1 1 2
USA - Greg Howes 20th minute
USA - Don D'Ambra 26th minute
USA ? 1-Scott Hileman, 7-Pat White, 4-Greg Howes, 5-Todd Dusosky, 9-Joel Shanker
Subs Used: 6-Sean Bowers (C), 10-Lee Tschantret, 2-Andy Guastaferro, 3-John Ball, 8-Danny Kelly, 11-Don D'Ambra
Head Coach: Keith Tozer
CUB ? 1-Wilfred Carbo, 4-Jose Jacinto Serrano, 8-Yosniel Mesa Diaz, 10-Juan Carlos Portal, 11-Boris Saname
Subs Used: 3-Isven Roman Garcia, 5-Eduardo Morales, 6-Adalberto Guerra, 7-Yampier Rodriguez, 9-Fernando Chapman
Head Coach: Clemente Reinoso
Shots 13 23
Corners 3 11
Fouls 3 7
Saves 10 4
USA - Scott Hileman (caution) 35th minute
USA - Don D'Ambra (caution) 36th minute
Referee: Jorge Ruiz (CRC)
Second Referee: Ernest Richardson (GRN)
Group B Standings
GP W L T PTS GF GA GD
CUB 3 2 0 1 7 13 4 +9
USA 3 1 0 2 5 9 3 +6
PAN 3 1 1 1 4 10 7 +3
GUY 3 0 3 0 0 6 24 -13
Panama 2, USA 2
USA 6, Guyana 0
USA 1, Cuba 1
USA 4, Costa Rica 0
USA 2, Cuba 0