U.S. soccer 'not happy' after 9-0 rout
LONDON — The U.S. men’s seven-a-side soccer team knew it would have its hands full at the 2012 Paralympic Games and that was certainly evident in the team’s first pool play match today.
Playing in Group B for the pool play portion of the Games soccer tournament, the U.S. team pulled perhaps the most difficult draw in two-time defending Paralympic champions, Ukraine.
The Ukrainian team was dominant in today’s match, defeating the American team 9-0 and displaying why they are once again favored to win gold at these Games.
The U.S. struggled early on, allowing Ukraine its first goal just 38 seconds into the match on a shot directly in front of the goal by forward Ivan Shkvarlo.
The Ukrainians quick start was something U.S. Head Coach Jay Hoffman admitted he was not expecting and put his team at a disadvantage way too early.
”I’m not happy about the way we started out. We put ourselves in a deep hole right off the bat and you can’t dig out against these guys,” said Hoffman.
The hits kept coming for the Americans as Shkvarlo followed up his early goal with his second goal of the day from the same location six minutes later. Another goal by Vitaliy Trushev at the 10 minute mark put the U.S. down 3-0 early on.
No matter what the U.S. team threw at Ukraine today they were always quick to respond.
After a near miss on goal that carried just right by American Rene Reneteria in the 15th minute, the Ukrainian team quickly drove the ball down the field and capped it off with its fourth goal of the half by midfielder Anatoli Shevchyk.
After Shevchyk’s goal the Americans settled in and held Ukraine at bay for the next 14 minutes, despite multiple shots on goal by the relentless Ukrainians. Ukraine eventually added one more goal just before the half as Shkvarlo scored his third goal of the day and the 500th goal in Paralympic Games history.
That put the score at 5-0 at the half.
The second half started out much like the first, as Ukrainian midfielder Taras Dutko connected on a shot that just snuck under the outstretched arms of Johnson, putting Ukraine up 6-0.
The Ukrainians added two more goals by Shevchyk and Shkvarlo in the 39th and 41st minutes, respectively, extending the lead to 8-0 before eventually defeating the US, 9-0 following Shevchyk’s fourth goal of the day in the 48th minute.
Although the Hoffman was disappointed in today’s result he is still confident heading into the team’s next match versus Brazil and will look to build on some of the positives today. One such positive was the play of Johnson who made several big saves today, including three off his body near the end of the match.
“He is a very good shot stopper,” bragged Hoffmann. “He pulls off some great saves and keeps us in the game or at least puts us in a position where we still have a chance.”
The Americans now turn their attention to Brazil, who they will face off against on Sept. 3 when pool play continues. The Brazilian team will be another formidable opponent but Hoffman is confident his team can regroup and improve on today’s match.
“Today was a little bit off the norm for us. I think that if we can get ourselves resurrected after having played in front of a big crowd we can settle in and know that we have been here before and that we are going to be OK.”
After playing Brazil on September 3, the U.S will take on the final team in Group B, host country Great Britain on September 5. The top four teams in pool play will advance to the semifinal round which begins on September 7.
In the other Pool B match of the day, Brazil defeated Great Britain 3-0.