GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (May 5, 2021) – With a spot in the Quarterfinals secured, the U.S. Futsal National Team defeated Cuba 4-2 to win Group D of the Concacaf Futsal Championship on Wednesday afternoon. Julian Escobar registered the first USA hat-trick since 2008, and Luciano Gonzalez’s goal with :20 lifted the USA ahead of El Salvador in the final standings on goals scored after the teams were level on points and goal differential.
The Salvadorian’s 5-2 win over Nicaragua earlier in the day clinched the USA’s spot as one of the top two teams in the group before the Red, White and Blue even kicked off against Cuba.
The USA will now face the Dominican Republic in Friday’s Quarterfinals, with El Salvador meeting hosts, Guatemala. The winners of each match will earn two of the four Concacaf berths at the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Lithuania in September.
Despite having been eliminated, Cuba came to play, jumping on the USA with a goal after just three minutes when Alejandro Marrero curled in a left-footed shot around goalkeeper Diego Moretti from 14 yards out.
The USA answered with back-to-back goals by Julian Escobar. The first came twelve minutes, when Alencar Ventura-Junior chipped a corner kick across the court. Everson Maciel’s first-time strike from just outside the arc was deflected by GK, but the ball advanced towards the goal where Escobar pushed across to level things up.
Escobar then went solo for his second just before the half, taking the ball across midfield into the penalty area before attempting to flick it past GK….and putting away the rebound at the near post.
Cuba tied the match three minutes after the break on a long through ball from 10 to 11 at the back post to put past Moretti.
Knowing that the team needed to win by two and score at least four goals in order to win the Group, USA head coach Dusan Jakica turned to the fifth attacker with over seven minutes to go. The reward came immediately, as Escobar’s pass-slash-shot from 17 yards out took a slight deflection and tucked into the side net to complete his hat trick.
The USA kept its foot on the pedal and Gonzalez scored the key fourth goal with twenty second left, tapping in a corner from Ventura-Junior at the goal mouth.
The USA won its group at the Concacaf Futsal Championship for the first time since 2008, when they also finished with seven points off two wins and draw.
Escobar became the first USA player to record a hat trick in group play since the tournament began in 1996, and fourth to do so all-time. Dario Brose (Semifinal, 1996), Brian Loftin (Third Place, 2000) and Matthew Stewart (Third Place, 2008) were the others.
The USA will look to clinch a spot in the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup on Friday, May 7 when they face Dominican Republic in the Quarterfinals. Kick off is at 1:30 p.m. ET, live on TUDN.
- U.S. Futsal Men’s National Team Match Report -
Match: U.S. Futsal Men’s National Team vs. Cuba
Date: May 5, 2021
Competition: 2021 Concacaf Futsal Championship
Venue: Domo Polideportivo; Guatemala City, Guatemala
Attendance: No Fans Permitted
Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. local
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 4 4
CUBA 1 1 2
CUB – Alejando Marrero 16’ 09” (1st Half)
USA - Julian Escobar (unassisted) 8’21” (1st Half
USA - Julian Escobar (unassisted) 0’ 44” (1st Half)
CUB - Ricardo Castillo 7’24” (2nd Half)
USA - Julian Escobar (unassisted) 17’47” (2nd Half)
USA - Luciano Gonzalez (Alencar Ventura-Junio) 0’21” (2nd Half)
USA: 12-Diego Moretti (Capt.); 2-Zach Reget, 4-Alencar Ventura-Junior, 8-Guilherme Veiga, 11-Tomas Pondeca
Substitutes: 1-Eduardo Macias, 3-Raphael Araujo, 5-Julian Escobar, 6-Jeremy Klepal, 7-Daniel Mattos, 9-Everson Maciel, 10-Ricardo Sobreira, 13-Eduardo Buenfil, 14-Luciano Gonzalez
Suspended: 13-Eduardo Buenfil
Head coach: Dusan Jakica
CUB: 12-Ariel Perez, 2-Alexander Manent, 4-Reiner Socarras (capt), 10-Alejandro Marrero, 11-Ricardo Castillo
Subs: 1-Yasmany Martinez, 3-Daniel Hernandez, Aldo Villavicencio, 6-Mikel Barrizonte, 7-Roger Moraton, 8-Lazaro Peña, 13-Walter Diaz, 14-Ernesto Duanes
Head coach: Clemente Reinoso
CUB - Daniel Hernandez (Caution) 7’44’ (First Half)
CUB – Roger Maraton (Caution) 15’36” (2nd Half)
CUB - Lazaro Peña (Caution) 4’’17” (2nd Half)
1st Referee: Ronny Castro (CRC)
2nd Referee: Ricardo Lay (PAN)
3rd Referee: Oscar Cruz (HON)
Timekeeper: Luis Aguilar (PAN)