Argentina and South Africa advance to World League Round 3
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – March 5, 2013 – Argentina had another perfect performance over the U.S. Men’s Field Hockey Team today in the final match of the FIH World League Round 2 tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Without the victory, Argentina had already secured their spot at World League Round 3 alongside South Africa, but the undefeated squad came out firing, racking up seven goals against the U.S. in the first half en route to a 9-0 shutout performance.
Head coach Chris Clements commented on Team USA’s performance after the match saying, “our program is in an entirely different place than Argentina and other top teams in the world. We are in the process of rebuilding and are exposing young players to international hockey for the first time. We have a very talented group of players on the squad, but we need to play like we deserve to be on the field from the very first minute. After halftime, we did that and I think the numbers prove themselves, but it doesn’t count unless we do it from the beginning.”
A rocky start enabled Argentina to accumulate four goals in the first fifteen minutes and seven goals by the end of the first half. The U.S. improved their performance in the second half, matching Argentina’s opportunities in the circle, however, Team USA was unlucky in finding the back of the net. Jon Ginolfi (Moorpark, Cali.) tested Argentina’s keeper with several shots on goal and team captain Pat Harris (Moorpark, Cali.) executed two penalty corners flawlessly, but Argentina’s keeper was cool and collected in net, playing a large role in Argentina’s shutout victory. The U.S. held Argentina to a mere two goals in the final thirty-five minutes of action.
Johnny Orozco, a 19-year-old rookie from Ventura, Cali.and a last minute addition to the World League Round 2 squad earned his first cap with the national team on day one in Rio de Janeiro against Chile. His sound performance throughout the tournament earned him a starting spot against the No. 10 world ranked team today.
“Johnny was a late addition, replacing one of our players due to a back injury. To earn a spot on the starting lineup and to perform the way he did throughout the week was well above our expectations,” said Clements.
Side-by-side, Team USA’s roster is vastly different from Argentina’s. The U.S. traveled with a talented young squad that has competed in very few international competitions against the world’s best. Thirteen of the eighteen players are under the age of 25 and more than half the squad has competed in less than ten international competitions in their career with the national team. The majority of Argentina’s team is in their late twenties or early thirties and has represented their country in over 100 international competitions. Not to mention, they just competed in the London Olympic Games.
While the U.S. will not advance to World League Round 3, there is still an opportunity for Team USA to qualify for the 2014 World Cup through the Pan American Cup to be held this August in Toronto, Canada.
“We have a comprehensive plan in place building up to the Pan American Cup which is going to be our next text,” Clements said. “We evaluated our abilities here and now we can make our plans accordingly so that we can improve on our performances.”
The Road to Rio is just beginning for Team USA and by no means does a fourth or fifth place finish in Rio de Janeiro for World League Round 2 mean you can count them out in 2016. A lot can happen in three years, but Clements says it is important to keep expectations for the program realistic and performances against top world ranked opponents in perspective.
“We have three and a half years to go until the Olympic Games in Rio and we need that time to improve on our performance against powerful opponents. While we are not ready right now, our goal is to work towards being back here in 2016 with proper programming, support networks and competitive opportunities our players need to get to that next level. Rio is a long way away and we need to keep things in perspective on how we build the program forward and into the future,” said Clements.
Team USA is on their way back to the United States this evening and will have some time off before reconvening and beginning their preparations for the Pan American Cup.
USA Field Hockey