PREVIEW: PNT to Take On Ireland in World Championships Fifth-Place Match

Rio Rematch Set as USA Aims for Highest Finish at a Major World Competition since 1996

After a thrilling comeback over world No. 2 Brazil, the U.S. Paralympic National Team is set to face Ireland in the 2017 World Championships fifth-place match (YouTube, 11:30 a.m. ET) on Friday morning. The USA is aiming for its best finish at a major world competition since coming in fourth at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics.

Friday’s game will be a rematch of last summer’s seventh-place match at the Rio Paralympics, when the U.S. defeated Ireland 2-1. Seth Jahn and Andrew Bremer scored to give the U.S. its best Paralympic finish since 1996.

The PNT is riding high after a rousing 3-2 come-from-behind victory against Brazil, bronze medalists a year ago in Rio. After losing to England in a heartbreaking quarterfinal, the PNT fell behind early to Brazil on a blustery day in San Luis as the Canarinho scored two goals in four minutes, even after having a player sent off for receiving a red card.

Jahn put the Americans on the board in the 24th minute to cut into the lead. Switching sides after the half put the wind at the PNT’s back, and Nick Mayhugh equalized with his first goal of the tournament in the 32nd minute, a rocket from beyond the top left corner of the box. Then, Rio Paralympic hero Adam Ballou delivered again for the U.S. at a critical point, one-timing a header to score the game-winning goal in the 36th minute, a strike that found its way onto SportsCenter’s top ten plays.

https://twitter.com/ussoccer_PNT/status/910873726069170176

A rousing start to the tournament saw the PNT score 11 goals through its first two games. Its next two fixtures became a showcase for goalkeeper Sean Boyle and the U.S. back line, highlighted by strong play from defender David Garza. Boyle made 13 saves as the U.S. held reigning Paralympic champ Ukraine to a 2-0 result – its fewest goals of the tournament – and 14 in the red, white and blue’s hard-fought 2-1 defeat to England.

The USA’s depth will be tested on Friday as three players: Ballou, Jahn and Mayhugh will all be suspended due to yellow card accumulation. The trio picked up cautions against England and Brazil.

Ireland enters the fifth-place match after defeating world No. 3 Netherlands 5-1 in its first placement match. The Irish finished second in Group A, behind Brazil and ahead of 13th and 15th-place finishers Canada and Spain. In pool play, they fell 5-0 to Brazil. The Emerald Isle has a proud history in Paralympic soccer, winning the first world championships at the 1982 CPISRA International Cerebral Palsy Games in Greve, Denmark.

When Ireland has won in Argentina, it has done so with remarkable individual efforts. Two Irishmen have put together four-goal games for the Boys in Green- captain Gary Messett against Spain and Dillon Sheridan against the Netherlands. Sheridan also scored a hat trick in Ireland’s 3-3 draw with Canada. But as it has rained for the Irish in San Luis, it has also poured- their two losses have both came by five-goal margins.

PNT Roster by Position (Hometown):
GOALKEEPERS (2): Boyle, Sean (Minneapolis, Minn.), Estrella, Marc (Bakersfield, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (6): Ballou, Adam (Virginia Beach, Va.), Boarman, Bryce (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Brigman, Gregory (Harrisburg, N.C.), Garza, David (San Diego, Calif.), Hensley, Kevin (Memphis, Tenn.), Lindau, Benjamin (Chicago, Ill.)
MIDFIELDERS (4): Abbiate, Mason (San Diego, Calif.), Bennett, Tyler (Wadsworth, Ohio), Bremer, Andrew (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Mayhugh, Nicholas (Manassas, Va.)
FORWARDS (2): DeLillo, Cameron (Blandon, Pa.), Jahn, Seth (Lakeland, Fla.)

IRL Roster by Last Name:
Badun Oluwatomiwa Henk; Barry, Mark Patrick; Carroll, Samson Paul; Cotter, Peter; Maher, Thomas; McKee, Carl; Merritt, O’Brien, Dylan Patrick; Oisin Gerard; Naughton, James Gerard; Nolan, Ryan; Sheridan, Dillon; Tier, Aaron; Tuite, Conor

Final Placement Schedule

Date

Match

Time (ET)/Result

Venue

Sept. 21

15th Place – Spain vs. Japan

0-0 (3-2 pk’s)

Stadium J.G. Funes

Sept. 21

13th Place – Venezuela vs. Canada

1-2

Stadium J.G. Funes

Sept. 21

11th Place – Northern Ireland vs. Portugal

2-1

Stadium J.G. Funes

Sept. 21

9th Place – Argentina vs. Australia

4:00 p.m.

Stadium J.G. Funes

Sept. 22

7th Place – Brazil vs. Netherlands

9:00 a.m.

Stadium J.G. Funes

Sept. 22

5th Place Match – USA vs. Ireland

11:30 a.m.

Stadium J.G. Funes

Sept. 23

3rd Place Match – England vs. Russia

1:00 p.m.

Stadium J.G. Funes

Sept. 23

Championship Match – Iran vs. Ukraine

3:30 p.m.

Stadium J.G. Funes