USMNT Falls to Top-Seeded Argentina

July 16, 2015, 11:02 a.m. (ET)

TORONTO, Canada – July 16, 2015 – In their second pool play match, the U.S. Men’s National Team fell to familiar opponent and 6th FIH World Ranked Argentina by a score of 0-6 at the 2015 Pan American Games. Competing in two preparatory games against Argentina last week in Boston, Mass., Team USA was acquainted with their playing style but couldn’t match the performance shown today.

"We played incredibly well in the first half and made two unacceptable errors," said U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach Chris Clements. "But then we just strayed away from what our original intentions were and had been in that first period and therefore Argentina was able to capitalize on that. We had something in place that has been successful for us and wanted to continue with that plan. We slightly moved away from that, so now it's a matter of discipline from our younger players to make sure we follow through as to what we've set down as the plan of attack. We have evidence that it's working, so there's no need to change our original plan." 

Team USA was put under pressure early by Argentina who had multiple circle penetrations. With composure and patience, the USMNT defense held strong and handled the persistent advances. In the 11th minute, Argentina earned their first penalty corner of the game, but a collective effort by USA’s strong defensive corner unit kept them from crossing the goal line. 

Working to transition the ball up the field, Mortiz Runzi (Boston, Mass.) found an open passing lane and sent a hard ball across the goalmouth but the drive went through without hitting another USA stick to capitalize on the chance. End-to-end hockey progressed as both teams advanced entering into their respective circles but just before the end of the first quarter, Argentina’s Agustin Mazzilli cranked a backhanded ball from the top left of the circle to make the score USA 0, Argentina 1.

At the start of the second quarter, Argentina was awarded their second penalty corner of the match but USA’s goalkeeper Chris Rea (San Diego, Calif.) had an outstanding save on the left side of the cage to deny the drag flick. This translated into a USA breakaway threat by Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) through the middle of the pitch but the offensive run was stopped by Argentina’s defense.

In the 19th minute, Argentina’s Manuel Brunet entered the top right of the circle and released a powerful hit that found the low left bottom corner of the cage to change the score to USA 0, Argentina 2.

With determination, Team USA's front line tirelessly continued to generate circle entries and in the 22nd minute earned their first penalty corner of the game. Off the corner, Will Holt’s (Camarillo, Calif.) drag flick opportunity was saved by the glove of Argentina’s goalie. Just two minutes later Team USA earned their second penalty corner and Aki Kaeppeler’s (Stuttgart, Ger.) low flick went off the toe of Argentina’s goalkeeper keeping the score at USA 0, ARG 2 going into halftime.

In the opening minutes of the third quarter, Argentina posed a quick backhand shot but the opportunity went just wide of the cage. Continuing to develop scoring chances, Team USA broke into the circle in the 35th minute with smooth connecting passes but Argentina's defensive line stepped up to eliminate USA's front-foot attack. 

Forced defensive errors earned Argentina a penalty corner in the 38th minute. Rea's quick reaction to the initial shot was successful but he was unable to clear a fast paced rebounded ball by Argentina’s Gonzalo Peillat who changed the score to USA 0, Argentina 3.

Just three minutes later, Argentina found the back of the cage again when Facundo Callioni maneuvered through USA’s defenders to challenge Rea who slid into a solid stack save. Collioni flicked the ball over Rea’s reach creating a new score of USA 0, Argentina 4.

Argentina continued to apply high pressure on Team USA’s defense and capitalized off two penalty corner opportunities in the 46th minute on a goal by Peillat and again in the 54th minute on a goal by Nicolas Della Torre to make the final score USA 0, Argentina 6.

"We have to be a little bit sharper when we're under pressure because the best teams, as you've seen today, will punish you if you're not sharp the entire game, especially in the defensive circle," said Harris. "We still need to focus on our goal and our goal is to win a medal. Losing this game doesn't change the color of the medal we want to win. We have to and we want to win the next game. We're simply focused on that. We're going through this tournament one step at a time." 

The U.S. Men’s National Team will be back on the field Saturday, July 18 at 11 a.m. EST in their final pool play game against Trinidad and Tobago. For all information regarding USA Field Hockey at the 2015 Pan American Games, including the full schedules, check out the event page and be sure to follow on Twitter @USAFieldHockey for live Team USA game updates.