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U.S. Ties Panama 2-2 in Opening Match of CONCACAF Futsal Qualifying

HEREDIA, Costa Rica - The U.S. National Futsal Team tied Panama 2-2 on Saturday night in the opening match for the team at the 2004 CONCACAF Futsal Tournament. The tournament, held at the Palacio de los Deportes in Heredia, Costa Rica, qualifies the top two teams from the region to go to the 2004 FIFA Futsal World Championship in Chinese Taipai in December.

The U.S. got goals from Greg Howes and Joel Shanker in the second half after a 1-0 deficit at halftime, but Panama answered just seconds after the second U.S. goal and the teams played scoreless for the final eight minutes.

"We felt that we came into this match well organized," head coach Keith Tozer said. "We created a lot of goal scoring chances, but we just did not finish. Getting in foul trouble early in the second half also hurt us. At 2-2 we get the draw and now we have to start preparting for Guyana."

The U.S. came out playing tough defense, allowing just eight first half shots while taking 17 of their own. It was Panama who was able to get on the scoresheet first, however, as U.S. defender Lee Tschantret was whistled for the team's sixth foul just 30 seconds before the half. The foul set up a spot kick from the second penalty mark for Panama, and Gilberto Rangel was able to drive a low shot that deflected of the inside of goalkeeper Scott Hileman's leg and into the right corner of the goal.

Earlier in the first half the U.S. had several dangerous scoring chances. The first came at the 10:15 mark of the first half when Shanker shot wide right off a set piece when John Ball was fouled 11 meters from goal. Shanker had the best chance for the U.S. late in the half as he lost his balance
and slid back post trying to defect a cross from Danny Kelly that went wide of the goal to the left.

In the second half, the U.S. came out looking to be more aggressive, but put themselves in foul trouble early. In the 26th minute, Panama earned a free kick from 12 meters out even with the right post. On the restart, Howes was able to steal the ball and created a breakaway opportunity for himself, blasting a shot from the top right of the area past Jose Victoria.

Bad news came for the U.S. in the 30th minute, as Ball was shown his second yellow card, meaning that the U.S. would play a man down for two minutes and Ball would sit the next U.S. match. Down a man, the U.S. still was able to create their second goal of the night. Shanker fed target forward Todd Dusosky in the right corner, and then made a run directly to the goal. Dusosky slid a perfect centering pass that Shanker was able to squeeze past Victoria for a 2-1 U.S. lead.

That lead would be short lived, however, as Panama came back just 40 seconds later with Rangel's second goal of the night, from the left of U.S. goalkeeper Scott Hileman.

The first ever U.S. tie in a CONCACAF Championship game will be followed up by the U.S. facing Guyana at 8 p.m. local time on Monday night. The U.S. then plays Cuba, who toppled Guyana 10-3 in their opening game, in the final match of group play.

"If you win both games, you go through to the next round,” Tozer said. “I think the next game is going to be important against Guyana. We have to score some goals, and not give up hardly any - if any - and then start preparing for Cuba. It's going to be a battle between us and Panama, and then find out who can beat Cuba."

In Group A action on Friday night, Mexico opened with a 6-4 victory, while the hosts Costa Rica derailed Suriname by a 13-1 margin.

- U.S. National Futsal Team Game Report -

Participants:  U.S. National Futsal Team vs. Panama
Competition: CONCACAF Futsal Tournament
Location: Palacio de los Deportes
Date: July 24, 2004

Scoring Summary:
                                       1st     2nd     Final
United States                          0        2          2
Panama                                 1        1          2

PAN – Gilberto Rangel (DP)  20th minute
USA - Greg Howes  26th minute
USA - Joel Shanker (Todd Dusosky) 31st minute
PAN - Rangel  32nd minute

USA – 1-Scott Hileman, 6-Sean Bowers (c), 4-Greg Howes, 5-Todd Dusosky, 10-Lee Tschantret
Subs Used: 7-Pat White, 3-John Ball, 2-Andy Guastaferro, 8-Danny Kelly, 9-Joel Shanker, 11-Don

Head Coach: Keith Tozer

PAN – 12-Jose Victoria, 5-Juan Murillo, 6-Ameth De Leon, 7-Moises Williams, 10-Apolinar Galvez
Subs Used: 3-Everardo Antonio Smith, 4-Alvaro Lopez, 8-Gilberto Rangel, 9-Enrique Valdes, 11-Alquis

Head Coach: Marcos Babau Assumpçao

Stats Summary
Shots 32 20
Corners 14 3
Fouls 11 8
Saves 6 12

Misconduct Summary:
USA – John Ball (caution) 18th minute
PAN - A. Alvardo (caution) 18'
USA - John Ball (caution) 30'
USA - John Ball (ejection) 30'
PAN - J. Victoria (caution) 31'
PAN - A. Lopez (caution) 33'

Referee: Emilio Dongu (MEX)
Second Referee: Ernest Richardson (GRN)