Qatar in Sight - USATH Men's National Team Competes in 2014 PanAmericano

June 23, 2014, 10:30 a.m. (ET)

Qatar in Sight

USA Men's National Team looks to qualify for 2015 World Handball Championships with strong performance in 2014 Pan American Men's Handball Championships

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay – USA Team Handball has not participated in the World Men’s Handball Championships since 2001, in France. Under the leadership of Coaches Javier Garcia Cuesta and Christian Latulippe, the current Men’s National Team hopes to make a return to the “Worlds” in 2015 by qualifying in the 2014 Pan American Men’s Handball Championship this week in Uruguay.

The Men’s National Team qualified for the Pan Am Championships by earning the bronze medal in the Pan American NorCa Qualifier in Mexico this past March. Now, Team USA needs at least another third-place finish to punch their ticket to the 2015 World Handball Championships, which will be held from January 15 to February 1, 2015 in Qatar.

No stranger to success at the Pan Am Championships, the U.S. National Team won medals each year the championship tournament was held from 1979 to 1996, and finished in fourth place four times in five tournament years from 1998 to 2006. This year, the U.S. seeks to end its eight-year drought without a PanAmericano medal.

Team USA received what was considered a favorable draw for the Pan Am Championships in May, when they were grouped with Brazil, Guatemala, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Venezuela, surprisingly, withdrew from the tournament on Sunday, which now features only eight teams. Group B features the national teams from Argentina, Chile, Greenland, and Mexico (Cuba and Paraguay both declined invitations to the tournament due to financial reasons).

Changes have been made to the U.S. Men’s National Team as well. Due to varying circumstances, six players who propelled Team USA to its third-place finish in the NorCa Qualifier are not returning. However, due to the success of USATH Residency Program based in Auburn, Ala., Coaches Cuesta and Latulippe have been able to consistently train and evaluate players, and are confident that the four new players added to the Senior National Team roster can be successful as well.

Gameplay begins today at 4:30 pm UYT (UTC/GMT -3 hours). Team USA will take the court tomorrow, June 24, at 6 pm UYT, against the Brazilian National Team. Due to Coach Cuesta’s international connections and history with the Brazilian Handball Federation, Team USA was able to train in Joinville, Brazil this past week and compete in friendly matches against the Brazilian team before traveling to Uruguay.

Team USA will also play group matches on Wednesday and Thursday before a day off on Friday. The remaining schedule and other information is available on the Pan American Team Handball Federation website.

The matches will be broadcast live online at the Uruguayan Handball Federation website via pay-per-view ($10 USD for entire tournament or $5 USD per day).

Follow @panamhandball on Twitter for score updates during the tournament!