CHICAGO (May 5, 2004) – U.S. Futsal National Team head coach Keith Tozer announced his 17-man training camp roster to face Honduras in a two-game Preliminary Round CONCACAF Qualifier on May 18 and 20 at U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee, Wis. The winner of the aggregate goal series will advance to the eight-team CONCACAF Final Qualifying Tournament, which will be played in Costa Rica during the last two weeks of July and will determine the region’s two participants in the FIFA Futsal World Championship in Chinese Taipei from Nov. 21 - Dec. 5.
The U.S. team will arrive in Milwaukee on May 13 to begin training for the competition as they attempt to qualify for their third consecutive CONCACAF tournament following appearances in 1996 and 2000. Both matches of the two-game series will be played at U.S. Cellular Arena and kickoff at 7 p.m., with the first leg on Tuesday, May 18, and the second leg on Thursday, May 20.
With the exception of Dewayne Gilpatrick, the U.S. roster is composed exclusively of Major Indoor Soccer League players. The Milwaukee Wave lead the way with five players, followed by the two-time defending league champion Baltimore Blast with four. The Cleveland Force, Kansas City Comets and Philadelphia Kixx each have two players on the roster and the St. Louis Steamers contribute one. While there are 17 players on the training camp roster, teams are limited to just 12 players for a particular match.
“We’re very excited about the team we’ve put together as well as having the opportunity to host both qualifiers here in the United States,” said Tozer. “We have had several key injuries to Steve Butcher, Pat Morris, Kevin Sloan and Jeff Davis, but we feel confident going in with the additions of Jamar Beasley, Danny Kelly, Scott Hileman and this year’s MISL All-Star MVP Giuliano Celenza.”
Blast midfielder Lee Tschantret is the most experienced player on the U.S. roster with 12 caps and leads the team with six goals. The U.S. also has a capable netminder as Steamers goalkeeper Brett Phillips has 10 appearances for the national team.
Prolific forwards Greg Howes and Don D’Ambra are two of the viable scoring threats the U.S. has available in their arsenal. Howes was a unanimous MISL First Team selection after leading the league with 57 goals and guiding the Wave to the finals during the 2003-2004 season, while D’Ambra notched 35 goals for the Kixx and was named to the MISL Second Team. Milwaukee native Pat White has also shown he can be a scoring threat from his defensive position, registering a hat trick against Canada in 2002, for a total of four goals in six caps.
Two other players also received recognition by MISL during the season as Hileman earned the MISL Championship Series’ Most Valuable Player award after helping Baltimore repeat as league champs and Beasley was named to the All-Rookie Team after a successful campaign with Kansas City.
In the other two match-ups between Northern Zone and UNCAF representatives in the Preliminary Round, Canada will face Panama and Mexico will square off against El Salvador. At the CONCACAF Final Qualifying Tournament in Costa Rica, the three winners will join up with the host Costa Rica, Cuba, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and Surinam.
The U.S. will be looking to get back to the World Championship after not reaching the final tournament four years ago when they finished in third place at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in 2000. The U.S. had qualified for the first three FIFA Futsal World Championships (in 1989, 1992 and 1996), finishing in the top three twice. The U.S. earned a third-place finish at the inaugural World Championship in Holland in 1989 and a second place finish at the 1992 event in Hong Kong, but failed to advance out of their group in Spain in 1996.
Under the direction of Tozer, who is the winningest coach in U.S. indoor history with over 500 victories, the U.S. won the 2003 Futsal Goal Cup held at the Anaheim Convention Center in December with CONCACAF rivals Mexico, Canada and Guatemala in attendance. The U.S. beat Canada 5-3 in their opening match, but fell to Guatemala 1-0 on an own goal in a hard fought match a day later. The U.S. bounced back against Mexico with a dominating 7-0 win, which combined with Canada pulling a 5-3 upset over Guatemala, gave the U.S. the championship.
Futsal is a sport that is a derivative of soccer and played with five-man teams on a basketball style court, with no walls and a low bouncing ball, unlike the traditional sport of U.S. indoor soccer played with a six-man squads and walls. Great soccer super stars such as Pele, Zico and Ronaldo grew up playing the game and credit Futsal with developing their skills.
U.S. Futsal National Team Training Camp
CONCACAF Preliminary Round Qualifier vs. Honduras
May 18-20, 2004 – Milwaukee, Wis.