A physical and even match was decided by a freekick goal scored by U.S. defender Sean Bowers (Detroit Rockers - NPSL) with three minutes remaining in the game.
After forward Temoc Suarez (Charleston Battery - A-League) was fouled outside the Mexican penalty area, Bowers fired a shot past the Mexican Goalkeeper Abel Treppmann and into the upper right-hand corner of the goal.
"We knew that this game was going to be tough," said Bowers, who has scored in his last three games for the USA. "Both teams played great defense and I was lucky to have the opportunity to score the deciding goal."
The U.S. got on the board early with a goal by forward Matt Tirschman (Milwaukee Wave - NPSL) in the 4th minute when he finished a give-and-go pass to forward Lee Tschantret (Detroit Rockers - NPSL) for the 1-0 lead.
Mexico evened the score at one with a penalty kick goal by defender Jose Montiel in the ninth minute of play after U.S. defender Glenn Carbonara (Milwaukee Wave - NPSL) was called for a questionable handball inside the penalty area. It was the first goal given up by the Americans in tournament play and it snapped a two-game shutout streak.
In the second half, the U.S. would take the lead again in the 28th minute on a tally by Tschantret off a through ball pass from Suarez beat the Mexican 'keeper Treppmann in a one-on-one for the 2-1 advantage.
Mexico began to pressure the USA defense in order to create mistakes in search of the equalizer. The pressure paid off as Mexican forward Meir Kastro intercepted a sloppy pass from the U.S. defense in the 36th minute and sent a ball to an oncoming teammate, Victor Huerta, who then blasted a shot past American Goalkeeper Otto Orf (Cleveland Crunch - NPSL) for the 2-2 score.
After Bowers notched the game-winner, the U.S. defense held its own against a fierce Mexican attack that searched for the tying goal, but it wouldn't come.
"One of our goals in this tournament was to play excellent defense and to give up only one goal a game," said Head Coach Keith Tozer. "To give up only two goals in three games, states that you are playing great defense. I'm proud of the way the team played and pressured its opponent when needed. We scored some key goals in this game and that is why we deserved to win tonight."
In an earlier Group B game, the Netherlands Antilles (1-2, 3 Points) ended the first round with a 4-0 shutout of Puerto Rico (0-3, 0 Points).
With this win, the U.S. (3-0, 9 Points) takes sole possession of first-place in Group B and will meet Cuba (2-1, 6 Points), who finished second in Group A, in the opener of the semifinals on Thursday (July 27). This is a rematch of the 1996 CONCACAF Championship Final that was won by the Americans, 7-3, in Guatemala City.
The nightcap of the semifinal doubleheader will feature Group B runners-up Mexico (2-1, 6 Points) taking on the host and Group A winners Costa Rica (3-0, 9 Point).
The two semifinal winners will not only play for the 2000 CONCACAF Championship on Saturday (July 29), but will also earned the final two berths to the Fourth FIFA Futsal World Championship in Guatemala (Nov. 18 - Dec. 3).
The U.S., which is looking to advance to the world championship for a fourth consecutive time, won the bronze medal at the 1989 FIFA competition in Holland and then took the silver in 1992 in Hong Kong. Futsal a sport derivative of soccer and played with five-man teams on basketball style court, with no walls and a small, compact ball.
2000 U.S. FUTSAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||United States Futsal Team vs. Mexico Futsal Team|
|Competition:||2000 CONCACAF Championship|
|Venue:||Palacio de los Deportes (Heredia, Costa Rica|
|Date:||July 25, 2000 - kickoff 8:30 p.m. local (MT)|
USA - Matt Tirschman, (Lee Tschantret), 4,
MEX - Jose Montiel (Penalty Kick), 9,
USA - Tschantret, (Temoc Suarez), 28,
MEX - Victor Huerta, (Meir Kastro), 36,
USA - Sean Bowers (Unassisted).
USA - GK-Otto Orf, D-Sean Bowers (Capt.), D-Jeff Davis, F-Wes Wade, F-Brian Loftin; Subs - D-Glenn Carbonara, D-Josh Timbers, F-Bernie Lilavois, F-Temoc Suarez, F-Matt Tirschman, F-Lee Tschantret.
MEX - GK-Abel Treppmann (Capt.); D-Victor Huerta, D-Jesus Torres, F-Leonardo Morales, F-Francisco Ramirez; Subs - D-Jose Montiel, D-Abraham Sofer, D-Jesus Rodriguez, D-Salomon Alfille, F-Meir Kastro, F-Raul Sidaui.
|2000 CONCACAF Championship (Heredia, Costa Rica)|
|Costa Rica*||3||3||0||0||19||6||9 (+13 GD)|
|Cuba*||3||2||1||0||24||10||6 (+14 GD)|
|Surinam||3||1||2||0||18||22||3 (-4 GD)|
|Nicaragua||3||0||3||0||7||30||0 (-23 GD)|
|2000 CONCACAF Championship (Heredia, Costa Rica)|
|United States*||3||3||0||0||15||2||9 (+13 GD)|
|Mexico*||3||2||1||0||10||6||6 (+4 GD)|
|Neth. Antilles||3||1||2||0||5||11||3 (-6 GD)|
|Puerto Rico||3||0||3||0||2||13||0 (-11 GD)|
* Advances to Semifinals
July 20 Cuba 13, Surinam 4
July 21 Mexico 4, Netherlands Antilles 1
July 22 Cuba 9, Nicaragua 2
July 23 Mexico 4, Puerto Rico 2
July 24 Surinam 11, Nicaragua 4
July 25 Netherlands Antilles 4, Puerto Rico 0
|July 27||USA vs. Cuba^||7 p.m.|
|July 27||Costa Rica vs. Mexico^||8:30 p.m.|
|July 29||Third Place Match||7 p.m.|
|July 29||Championship^||8:30 p.m.|
|^ Both finalists (semifinal winners) advance to 2000 FIFA World Championship in Guatemala (November 18 - December 3).|