GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (June 5, 2008) — Keith Tozer has coached the U.S. national futsal team in 55 international matches over 12 years, including four CONCACAF Championships and two FIFA World Championships.
Thursday’s performance, he said, might have been the best of them all.
Forced to defeat Costa Rica or miss the final round of the CONCACAF Championships for the first time under Tozer, the Americans turned 40 minutes of heart, focus and strong defensive pressure into a 6-2 victory that propelled them to first place in Group B at Domo Polideportivo. They await Thursday night’s results in Group A to learn their opponent for Saturday’s semifinals.
“It was a tremendous moment for U.S. futsal,” Tozer said, “and now, our job is not done. We really want to qualify for the World Championships, which will be our first goal in our first match on Saturday, and with a victory there, then we’ll go for the gold on Sunday.”
Cheered on for the third straight day by a handful of Marines stationed in Guatemala and exhorted by a sweat-soked Tozer throughout the match, the U.S. had plenty of heroes on the court on Thursday.
Six different players scored the goals. Matthew Stewart, whose miss of an open net at the end of Wednesday’s tie with Panama prevented the U.S. from advancing then, forced a turnover and fed Jamar Beasley for the game’s first goal in the 14th minute. Stewart also scored the fifth U.S. goal with another steal deep in the Costa Rica end.
“Matt brings so much heart and desire to the games that he plays in,” Tozer said. “Matt came back today and played a superb game.”
Newcomer Dan DeGeer, at 22 the youngest player on the U.S. roster, was pressed into service when Beasley received his second yellow card of the game in the 20th minute. All he did was score the eventual game-winner — again on a steal in the back end — and set up the final goal, by Denison Cabral.
Jeff Richey was credited with 32 saves just 24 hours after holding Panama to a single goal.
“I thought Jeff played an unbelievable game in goal, and we needed that,” Tozer said.
And it all was keyed by full-court defense so spirited that Costa Rica spent much of the game failing to advance the ball past the center line.
After Julio Cesar Mendez scored in the 20th minute to pull Costa Rica within 3-2, the U.S. controlled the second half. Mike Apple nearly scored in the 22nd minute when he struck the underside of the crossbar with a long shot, but it took until the 27th minute for the game to break open.
DeGeer simply stepped in front of a slow pass in front of the Costa Rica goal and one-timed it high past keeper Javier Alfaro before he could react. Four minutes later, Stewart made his second big play of the match and also went high to beat Alfaro. Finally, in the 32nd minute, Ptah Myers rolled a cross from the corner in front to DeGeer. His attempt was blocked but Denison Cabral cleaned up to seal the match.
Costa Rica employed the fifth attacker at that point, with 8:41 to go, but Richey and the U.S. defense allowed nothing.
Pat Morris and Sandre Naumoski, teammates on the Philadelphia KiXX, had the other two first-half goals for the U.S. Naumoski’s goal was his third of the tournament, best on the team.
“How we played today, especially against such a very, very good, experienced Costa Rican team — and not only win, but win convincingly — was just a fantastic win by the U.S. team,” Tozer said.
Participants: U.S. National Futsal Team vs. Costa Rica
Competition: CONCACAF Futsal Championships 2008
Location: Domo Polideportivo, Guatemala City, Guatemala
Date: June 5, 2008
Scoring Summary: 1 2 Final
CRC 2 0 2
USA 3 3 6
USA — Jamar Beasley 14th minute.
CRC — Daniel Colindres 16.
USA — Pat Morris 18.
USA — Sandre Naumoski 20.
CRC — Julio Cesar Mendez 20.
USA — Dan DeGeer 27.
USA — Matthew Stewart 31.
USA — Denison Cabral 32.
Costa Rica — 1-Javier Alfaro, 2-Daniel Colindres, 6-Michael Cordoba, 9-Marcos Carvajal, 10-Adony Vindas.
Subs used: 3-Luis Alejandro Paniaga, 4-Carlos Chavez, 5-Danny Aguilar, 8-Yanan Montoya, 11-Julio Cesar Mendez
Did not play: 12-Didier Herrerra
Not available: 7-Yefrid Ruiz
Head coach: Carlos Quiros
USA — 12-Jeff Richey, 4-Mike Apple, 5-Denison Cabral, 9-Pat Morris, 11-Matt Stewart
Subs used: 2-Dan DeGeer, 3-Jamar Beasley, 6-Andy Rosenband, 7-Ptah Myers, 8-Chile Farias, 10-Sandre Naumoski.
Did not play: 1-Nick Vorberg
Head coach: Keith Tozer.
Stats summary: CRC / USA
Shots 35 / 29
Corners 10 / 9
Fouls 5 / 7
Saves 20 / 32
USA — Denison Cabral (caution) 11th minute.
USA — Jamar Beasley (caution) 14.
USA — Jamar Beasley (caution) 20.
USA — Jamar Beasley (sent off) 20.
PAN — Adony Vindas (caution) 25.
USA — Ptah Myers (caution) 27.
PAN — Marcos Carvajal (caution) 38.
Referee: Carlos Del Cid (GUA)
AR1: Francisco Rivera (MEX)
AR2: Emidgio Garcia (NCA)
Timekeeper: Colin Class (GUY)
Team GP W L T PTS GF GA GD
CUB 2 1 0 1 4 11 4 7
GUA 2 1 0 1 4 8 3 5
MEX 2 0 0 2 2 5 5 0
TRT 2 0 2 0 0 3 14 -11
June 3: Cuba 2, Mexico 2
June 3: Guatemala 5, Trinidad & Tobago 0
June 4: Cuba 9, Trinidad & Tobago 2
June 4: Guatemala 3, Mexico 3
June 5: Mexico vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 6 p.m.
June 5: Guatemala vs. Cuba, 8 p.m.
Teams GP W L T PTS GF GA GD
USA 3 2 0 1 7 12 6 6
PAN 3 1 0 2 5 11 7 4
CRC 2 1 1 1 4 21 12 9
HTI 3 0 3 0 0 3 22 -19
June 3: Panama 6, Costa Rica 6
June 3: USA 5, Haiti 3
June 4: Costa Rica 13, Haiti 0
June 4: USA 1, Panama 1
June 5: Panama 4, Haiti 0
June 5: USA 6, Costa Rica 2
June 7: USA vs. A2, 2 p.m.
June 7: A1 vs. B2, 4 p.m.
June 8: Third place, 2 p.m.
June 8: Championship, 4 p.m.