U.S. Men suffer 6-1 loss to No. 12 South Africa at World League Round 2
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The U.S. faced a tough 6-1 loss against South Africa today after a strong first half performance in the second match of World League Round 2 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Team USA held the No. 12 world ranked team to only one goal in the first half and had several chances to equalize the match with four penalty corners. Manny Martinez (San Diego, Cali.), playing in his second international tournament with the U.S. Men’s National Team, recorded the lone goal of the match and chronicled the second goal of his career with the national team.
“We had an amazing first half against the No. 12 world ranked team today,” said Chris Clements, U.S. Men's National Team head coach. “We made one error early in the game which resulted in a goal for South Africa. We had four good penalty corner opportunities, which is one of our strengths, but unfortunately they did not work in our favor. There was a five minute stint in the second half where South Africa was able to score three goals. While we are playing well for longer periods, we must play for the entire 70 minutes against a quality opponent like South Africa."
South Africa came out in the second half with more energy and power, scoring two quick field goals in the 39th and 41st minute. They capitalized on two penalty corner opportunities and found the back of the net once more for a field goal before locking in the 6-1 victory.
Martinez sent a reverse shot to the far corner of the cage to tally Team USA’s only goal in the 63rd minute. Martinez made his debut with the National Team at World League Round 1 in Chula Vista, Cali. and recorded the first goal of his career in a match against Guatemala.
“It was great to get on the board and see Manny score. It shows that we are creating chances, we now just need to benefit from them,” Clements said.
“I think we played well at times and were able to match South Africa’s play but we couldn’t maintain the pace of the game,” said U.S. National Team veteran Ian Scally. “We got excited and lost composure. We started running when we needed to control the ball and they were able to score some goals. Those moments hurt us.”
The U.S. will look to improve their World League Round 2 record against host nation Brazil on Saturday, March 2 at 9:00 a.m. local time. In spite of the two early losses, Scally is optimistic and says he believes the team can secure wins in the remaining matches.