Despite a convincing performance, Chile defeated the U.S. 1-0 in the opening match of World League Round 2
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, Feb 27, 2013 – The U.S. Men’s Field Hockey Team opened their World League Round 2 campaign against Chile this afternoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the host city of the 2016 Olympic Games. Despite a solid performance and numerous scoring opportunities, the U.S. fell 1-0 to the No. 25 world ranked team.
“I thought we controlled the match very well, had a lot of possession and moved the ball up the field with ease,” said head coach Chris Clements. “We were very successful when we created pressure and forced the ball in to the circle, however, we were just a little tentative in our final attacking movements towards the goal. This will be an area we will look to improve on in the upcoming matches.”
The U.S. earned a penalty corner in the seventh minute and again in the 22nd minute but both opportunities by Pat Harris (Moorpark, Cali.) were shut down by Chile’s goalkeeper. The match remained scoreless at the end of the first half, with Team USA looking like the stronger side.
“I thought we dominated throughout most of the match against Chile,” Harris said. “What let us down today was decision making, especially in critical moments.”
A defensive error in the 50th minute resulted in a field goal for Chile, putting the U.S. down 1-0. Harris was strong through the midfield, creating opportunities on attack and Tyler Sundeen (Simi Valley, Cali.) formed chances for the U.S. in the circle. With nine minutes remaining, Jon Ginolfi (Moorpark, Cali.) fired a shot on goal that unluckily struck the post. Unfortunately time ran out for the U.S. and the final result was in favor of Chile, 1-0.
Johnny Orozco (Ventura, Cali.) and Kanwarpreet Sidhu (San Jose, Cali.) picked up their first cap with the U.S. Men’s National Team. In spite of nerves, Orozco and Sidhu’s had a fantastic first performance according to Clements.
“We now have eight men with only a handful of caps, so that’s nearly 50% of our team,” Clements said. “I thought Johnny and Kanwarpreet did a fantastic job and earned their position on the squad and in this tournament. The other players who have only played in a few games before today also played very well. We are a young squad, but we have high expectations to perform at a high level and I think everyone definitely did that today.”
Harris recalls when he earned his first cap with the national team back in 2000.
“It was 13 years ago in Cuba at an America’s Cup against Mexico,” Harris said. “We won and I scored a goal.”
He recalled the details of his first international competition vividly. It is a special moment in a player’s career.
“I think it is difficult to play in your first international competition,” said Harris. “There are a lot of nerves and unnecessary pressure you put on yourself because you don’t want to let the team down. I think Johnny and Kanwarpreet played well and didn’t show that today was their first career cap with the national team.”
The U.S. will face South Africa tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. local time. South Africa is ranked No. 12 in the world and finished 11th at the 2012 London Olympic Games. They cruised to a 9-0 victory today over Brazil while Argentina topped Trinidad and Tobago 9-2. Clements says they have done their homework and are prepared to face their opponent tomorrow.
“We had a practice match against South Africa last week so we have an understanding of their style of play. The goal for us in this tournament is to improve every match and tomorrow will be a good test for us,” said Clements.
“The match tomorrow is going to be a challenging one,” Harris said. “We need to limit our turnovers and play a very basic game. South Africa has great basic skills and good ball speed so it will certainly be a tough match.”
USA Field Hockey