U.S. Deaf Soccer Team Stuns Italy
ITALY (Tuesday, July 24, 2001) - The United States Deaf Soccer Team is currently competing in the 19th Summer Deaflympics in Italy where the team stunned Italy with a 2-1 defeat on Saturday (July 21), following up on an impressive 3-3 opening game draw with Algeria on Thursday (July 19). The Deaflympics run from July 19 to August 1, where the U.S. team opened play in Group A with Algeria, Italy and Spain (who they face today).
Despite being gold medal favorites and opening the tournament with a 6-0 victory over Spain, the U.S. stood their ground against Italy.
With defense the major plan for the U.S. against Italy, sweeper Josh Reiher and goalkeeper Carlos Hernandez played key roles in keeping Italy quiet. Reiher kept the Italian attack at bay while Hernandez made a number of saves early in the match to keep the score even. Eventually, the Italians would get on the board first and took a 1-0 lead into the half.
The Americans did not slow down in the second half, though, and Larry Manning (who scored twice against Algeria), lobbed a loose ball over the Italian defense and into the goal after the Italian goalkeeper had collided with his own defender. The defense stayed strong amidst the team's offensive forays, with Hernandez punching out balls and keeping the Italians out of the scoring column. With the clock running down, Matt Idler crossed a ball into the goal area where it was deflected into the back of the net by midfielder Josh Reiher, giving the U.S. an impressive 2-1 victory over the host Italians.
"We shocked the world!," said U.S. midfielder Manning, the brother of Tampa Bay Mutiny general manager Bill Manning. "They were supposed to win, but we did it!"
Said U.S. Head Coach Conrad Strack-Grose, "The game was not going according to their game plan. They beat Spain 6-0. They expected to beat us 12-0. They didn't."
"It's a great team. It's never been like this before," said U.S. netminder Hernandez.
With the win the United States move in to sole possesion of first place in their group. With the first and second place teams in the group advancing to the quarterfinals, the game held much importance for the United States' bid to make it to the next round. With one match left against Spain in the first round, the Americans are on a high, exclaimed Manning, "Oh, we're going all the way. We know we can do it now."