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U.S. National Futsal Team Prepare to Take on Guatemala for a 4 p.m. Kickoff on June 7 in Guatemala City


U.S. Futsal National Team
Game Notes — U.S. vs. Guatemala
Semifinals, CONCACAF Championship
Guatemala City, Guatemala
June 6, 2008

BACK WHERE THEY BELONG: The U.S. national futsal team has never failed to qualify for the finals of a CONCACAF championship. The team continued the streak Thursday after defeating Costa Rica 6–2. With seven points, the U.S. won Group B and drew the host team, Guatemala, in a match scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Domo Polideportivo. Cuba and Panama are in the other semifinal; Cuba has been the runner-up in the first three CONCACAF Championships. The top three finishers will be among the 20 teams in the FIFA Futsal World Championships, Sept. 30-Oct. 19 in Brazil.

SUNNY DAY: Since arriving last Wednesday night in Guatemala, the U.S. team has seen the sun for a few brief minutes. But it’s still been sunny during the tournament — Sandre Naumoski, nicknamed “Sunny,” has led the U.S. with three goals, scoring in every game. The native of Macedonia has played with four teams in five seasons. However, his best year was with expansion Chicago in 2004–‘05, scoring 14 goals in 38 games. In this tournament, he has scored on two long strikes and added a deft sliding conversion of a pass from Chile Farias in the game against Costa Rica.

BALANCE: Though Naumoski leads the U.S. with three goals, it has been a complete team effort offensively for the Americans. In the 5–3 win over Haiti, five different players scored. Six different players tallied the six goals against Costa Rica. Denison Cabral, Jamar Beasley and Matthew Stewart have two goals each, and Dan DeGeer, Pat Morris, and Chile Farias have one each.

IT’S CALLED “AMARILLA”: That’s the Spanish word for “yellow,” and that color has been flying during this CONCACAF championship. Officials flashed 48 yellow cards through the 12 games of group play, and with a second yellow in the tournament sending a player off for the next game, there have been plenty of ineligible players on the lineup cards. For Saturday’s semifinal, the U.S. will miss both Jamar Beasley and Denison Cabral as Beasley was sent off in the 20th minute against Costa Rica after picking up his second yellow of the game, while Cabral got his second of the tournament in that same match. DeGreer, Farias, and Ptah Myers are all sitting on one yellow card. Guatemala will be at full strength after its last group match against Cuba, which marked the only match of the tournament without any yellow cards. The teams spent 30 of the 40 minutes circling in the defensive half, declining to go forward. Attacking on the opponent’s defensive third would mean risking the allowance of goal that would break a tie and prevent the losing team from advancing to the next round of play.

ABOUT GUATEMALA: This is only Guatemala’s second CONCACAF championship. The Chapines finished fourth in 1996, did not play in 2000 because they qualified for the FIFA World Championships as a host, and failed to qualify in 2004. Buoyed by a rocking home crowd every night, Guatemala rallied from 3–0 deficits in each of its last two Group A games to salvage ties and move on. Guatemala’s Erick Acevedo played for U.S. Head Coach Keith Tozer with the Milwaukee Wave of the MISL in the 2004–‘05 season.

TOURNAMENT UPDATE: Only the U.S. won two games in group play, improving its all-time CONCACAF Championships record to 12–2–3. The Americans’ 6–2 win over Costa Rica was noteworthy in that of the group games not including Caribbean teams, it was the only one with a winner. The other five ended in draws. Mexico, who finished third, fourth, and fourth in the first three CONCACAF Championships, saw its hopes at reaching the finals dashed by the sluggish Cuba-Guatemala game. In that match, there were no fouls in the entire first half as both teams played ultra-cautiously. Guatemala pressured to open the second half, quickly surrendered three goals then worked to earn them back. Once they drew even in about the 31st minute, the circling resumed until the final buzzer, eliminating Mexico on goal differential.


Standings
Group A 

             GP   W   L   T   PTS  GF   GA  GD
CUB      3   1    0    2     5       14    7     7
GUA      3    1    0    2     5       11    6     5
MEX      3    1    0    2     5       12    8     4
TRT      3    0    3    0     0        5     20   15

Qualifying Results
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 7, Trinidad & Tobago 3
June 5: Guatemala 3, Cuba 3

Group B 
             GP   W   L   T   PTS  GF   GA  GD
CUB      3    2    0    1     7       12   6        6
GUA      3    1    0    2     5       11    7       4
MEX      2    1    1    1     4       21    12     9
TRT      3    0    3    0     0       22    22   -19

Match results
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

Semifinals
June 7: Panama vs. Cuba, 2 p.m.
June 7: USA vs. Guatemala, 4 p.m.


Finals:
June 8: Third place, 2 p.m.
June 8: Championship, 4 p.m.

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