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U.S. Futsal Opens Qualifying Saturday vs. Panama

July 23, 2004
San Jose, Costa Rica

U.S. GETS MUCH NEEDED REST ON THURSDAY: The coaching staff gave the team Thursday off from training to rest weary legs that had played two matches and trained twice in the first 48 hours in Costa Rica. In the morning, trainer Todd Daniels put the team through a pool workout in the chilly waters of the hotel pool. After the working, the team had some time to rest before lunch. After lunch, the team watched film of both their exhibition matches and also took a look at Panama's qualifiers vs. Canada. The team then spent the afternoon downtown in San Jose walk around, eat and buy souvenirs to bring home. The team left the downtown area, a 15-20 minute ride, at 7 p.m. to return to the hotel for an 8 p.m. dinner.

GUASTAFERRO HAT TRICK GIVES U.S. 3-3 TIE WITH DESAMPARADO: Forward Andy Guastaferro scored three goals as the U.S. came from behind in the final three minutes to must a tie with a solid Desamparado club team on Wednesday night. The host team jumped out to a 2-0 lead by the sixteenth minute, but the U.S. would reduce the advantage to one goal one minute before halftime when defender Lee Tschantret fed Guastaferro for his first goal of the night. Desamparado would score less than one minute later on a controversial goal. With the U.S pressing to equalize before halftime, the referee on the near sideline indicated a corner kick. As the U.S. pushed forward, the head referee awarded a goalkeeper throw and Desamparado took it quickly, catching the U.S. off guard and beating U.S. netminder Scott Hileman on the quick counter attack. In the second half, the U.S. played tough defensively and worked at creating more scoring opportunities but was unable to cut into the 3-1 margin. With Sean Bowers coming on as a fifth attacker for Brett Phillips, the U.S. was able to cut the margin to 3-2 as Guastaferro calmly blasted home a penalty kick in the 37th minute. One minute later, Tschantret drew the sixth foul of the half on Desamparado deep in the left corner, setting up a 10-meter kick for the U.S. Guastaferro again stepped up for the U.S. and drilled a shot into the lower left corner to close out the scoring. The U.S. made 11 saves, including a kick save by Bowers as the fifth attacker to keep the U.S. in the match.

TOZER TALKS ABOUT QUALIFYING WITH USSOCCER.COM: U.S. Futsal head coach Keith Tozer has been to the CONCACAF Futsal Championship twice leading the United States. The first time in 1996, his squad came out on top, winning the gold medal to advance to the FIFA Futsal World Championship. Four years later, the U.S. was left on the outside looking in despite earning the bronze medal after losing their semifinal. Tozer took some time after breakfast on Friday to talk with about his team and what lies ahead for them as they attempt to qualifying for the FIFA World Championship in Chinese Taipei later this year.
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TOURNAMENT BEGINS FRIDAY NIGHT FOR GROUP A: Friday evening the 2004 CONCACAF Futsal Championship begins at 6 p.m. local time as Mexico and Trinidad square of in Palacio de los Deportes in Heredia, Costa Rica. Following that match, the host team Costa Rica will take on Surinam at 8 p.m. as they begin their defense of the CONCACAF championship. The U.S. will make the short bus trip from their hotel to Heredia to watch the games, before opening the tournament on Saturday vs. Panama. The U.S. is in Group B, along with Cuba and Guyana who will play the nightcap Saturday night at the Palacio. Local time in Costa Rica in the summer is the same time as Mountain Time in the United States.

Group A Schedule
July 23 Mexico v. Trinidad & Tobago 6 p.m.
July 23 Costa Rica v. Surinam 8 p.m.
July 25 Surinam v. Mexico 6 p.m.
July 25 Costa Rica v. Trinidad & Tobago 8 p.m.
July 27 Trinidad & Tobago v. Surinam 6 p.m.
July 27 Costa Rica v. Mexico 8 p.m.

Group B
July 24 United States v. Panama 6 p.m.
July 24 Guyana v. Cuba 8 p.m.
July 26 United States v. Guyana 6 p.m.
July 26 Cuba v. Panama 8 p.m.
July 28 Panama v. Guyana 6 p.m.
July 28 Cuba v. United States 8 p.m.

Second Round
July 30 Group B #1 vs. Group A #2 6 p.m.
July 30 Group A #1 vs. Group B #2 8 p.m.
Third Place
July 31 Semifinal Losers 6 p.m.
July 31 Semifinal Winners* 8 p.m.
*Both semifinal winners advance to the FIFA Futsal World Championship in Chinese Taipai.

U.S. OPENS QUALIFYING PLAY VS. PANAMA: The U.S. will face Panama for the first time ever on Saturday at 6 p.m. local time at the Palacio de los Deportes in Heredia, Costa Rica. The U.S. has a 12-3-2 record all-time vs. CONCACAF opponents and the only country in the region to have winning record vs. the United States is Cuba with a 2-1-0 record. The U.S. is 2-0 in matches to open the CONCACAF Championship, with a 4-1 win over Costa Rica in 1996 and a 5-0 win over Puerto Rico in 2000. U.S. co-captain Sean Bowers scored in the opening game of the 2000 tournament, one of two that he scored in the tournament. Lee Tschantret, the other 2000 returnee, scored for the U.S. four times in that tournament. The U.S. coaching staff stresses defense, and would like to match the form of the 2000 team that only allowed two goals in group play in 2000, with both goals by Mexico in their final group match. The U.S. is on a five game unbeaten streak, with the last loss coming to Guatemala 1-0 in December of 2003. The team's longest unbeaten streak was nine games, from September of 1987 to January of 1989.