RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Sept. 30, 2008) – In a hard fought opening match of the FIFA Futsal World Cup, the U.S. Futsal National Team lost to Paraguay, 5-0, at the Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Three first half goals and plenty of possession from the South American team meant that there was no way back for Keith Tozer's squad after an early deficit. The U.S. now faces a quick turnaround before its next match in the FIFA Futsal World Cup, and faces Italy on Oct. 2 at 11:30 a.m. ET. ESPN360.com will broadcast the game live, while Galavision broadcast the match on tape-delay at 12:30 a.m. ET/PT on Oct. 3.
“It was disappointing but Paraguay was the better team today,” said U.S. head coach Keith Tozer. “They were a little quicker, a little stronger, and they scored goals on their counter attacks, which is one of their biggest strengths. For most of these guys it was their first World Cup game and I think the tempo and the physicality surprised us a little bit. We got our feet wet though, and its important now to move forward."
The U.S. created the first meaningful chance of the game just seconds after the opening kickoff. A combination freed up Matthew Stewart just inside the Paraguay penalty area, and his left footed shot crashed off the post before being cleared.
Minutes later, Paraguay broke through when Jose Luis Santander’s snap shot in the seventh minute caromed off the post and rebounded fortuitously back to the forward. Santander reacted quickest and shrugged off the challenge of forward Chile Farias before finishing under U.S. goalkeeper Jeff Richey.
Paraguay got stronger throughout the half, with Richey making save after save to keep the U.S. close. A collision between defender Joe Hammes and forward Jamar Beasley freed up Jose Rotella for a breakaway, but Richey reacted well to take the ball from the Paraguayan's feet. Richey was again called into action, saving a Ferandez blast with his chest in the 16th minute.
Eventually, Paraguay doubled their lead through a lightning quick counter attack in the 17th minute. Walter Villalba pounced on a loose ball and dribbled into space before slipping a pass to Fabio Alcaraz who finished with his first touch.
With seconds remaining in the first half, Paraguay scored again, this time through Robson Fernandez. The burly forward took a Villalba pass with his back to goal, before turning exquisitely and smashing the ball into the roof of the net. Coming just 11 seconds before the halftime buzzer, the goal was a tough blow to take for the U.S. side, who trailed, 3-0, heading into the locker room.
While the U.S. continued to persevere as they searched for their offense. Paraguay added two more goals in the second half, through Carlos Chilavert and Rene Villalba. Chilavert, the Paraguay captain, took advantage of a U.S. defensive giveaway to put his side four goals up. Villalba tallied the final score when he stole the ball from Richey and finished into an open net in the 39th minute.
With just one day off before the U.S. faces Italy on Oct. 2, Tozer insists that the focus for the team must be on moving forward.
“I think it can be seen as a benefit [to play Italy so soon],” said Tozer. “We'll watch this tape to see what we can learn, but we definitely will put this game behind us as we get our game plan together [for Thursday's match against Italy].”
One positive that the U.S. can take from the game is the knowledge that an opening game loss does not necessarily mean the end of a World Cup campaign. Tozer needs look no further than his 2004 team, which qualified for the second round after succumbing to defeat in the first match, 6-3, against Italy.
“Unlike in 2004, we have four matches this time around so there's still a lot of Futsal to be played,” Tozer said. “In a group this tough we couldn't really expect to go 4-0 even if we would have liked to. We just need to put this behind us and learn from it. The big thing is that we've now played in a World Cup game. We have that experience and I think we will learn from it going forward."
In other group action, Italy defeated Thailand, 1-0, putting them second in Group B behind Paraguay. The U.S. sits behind Thailand in fourth place while Portugal will play their first match Oct. 2 against Paraguay. [Full Schedule]
-- U.S. National Futsal Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. Paraguay
Date: September 30, 2008
Competition: FIFA Futsal World Cup – Group B
Venue: Maracanãzinho – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. BRT / 11:30 a.m. ET
1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
PAR 3 2 5
PAR – Jose Luis Santander (unassisted) 7th minute
PAR – Fabio Alcaraz (Walter Villalba) 17.
PAR – Robson Fernandez (Walter Villalba) 20.
PAR – Carlos Chilavert (Walter Villalba) 23.
PAR – Rene Villalba (unassisted) 39.
USA 12-Jeff Richey; 2-Joe Hammes, 4-Jamar Beasley, 5-Denison Cabral (capt.) 11-Matthew Stewart
Subs: 7-Ptah Myers, 8-Chile Farias, 9-Andrew Jacobson, 10-Sandre Naumoski, 13-Pat Morris, 14-Brett Wiesner
Subs not used: 1-Nick Vorberg
Head Coach: Keith Tozer
PAR: 1-Mario Gazolli; 3-Fabio Alcaraz, 5-Carlos Chilavert (capt.), 9-Robson Fernandez, 10-Walter Villalba
Subs: 2-Oscar Jara, 4-Rodolfo Roman, 6-Jose Luis Santander, 8-Jose Rotella, 11-Horacio Osorio, 14-Rene Villalba
Subs not used: 12-Carlos Espinola
Head Coach: Ruben Subeldia
Stats Summary: USA / PAR
Shots 13 / 28
Shots on Goal 5 / 23
Saves 16 / 4
Corner Kicks 8 / 9
Fouls 7 / 6
PAR – Robson Ferandez 2nd minute
USA – Pat Morris 19.
PAR – Jose Rotella 19.
USA – Jamar Beasley 25.
Referee: Oleg Ivanov (UKR)
2nd Referee: Ivan Shabanov (RUS)
3rd Referee: Li Zhizhong (CHN)
Timekeeper: Kazuya Isokawa (JPN)
Group A Results
Brazil 12, Japan 1
Cuba 10, Solomon Islands 2
Team GP W L D GF GA Pts
Brazil 1 1 0 0 12 1 3
Cuba 1 1 0 0 10 2 3
Russia 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Solomon Islands 1 0 1 0 2 10 0
Japan 1 0 1 0 1 12 0
Group B Results
Italy 1, Thailand 0
Paraguay 5, USA 0
Team GP W L D GF GA Pts
Paraguay 1 1 0 0 5 0 3
Italy 1 1 0 0 1 0 3
Portugal 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Thailand 1 0 1 0 0 1 0
USA 1 0 1 0 0 5 0