COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – July 24, 2017 – The men’s Pan American Cup (PAC) will kick off Friday, August 4 at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa. As participating nations battle it out in pool play, there is a handful of match-ups that are being eagerly anticipated to watch in the opening round.
Chile vs. Venezuela – Friday, August 4 at 10 a.m. ET
As the lowest FIH Hero World Ranked team in the tournament, Venezuela faces an uphill battle. Appearing in their first PAC since 2004, a Venezuela win would mark the first victory in PAC tournament history. This rematch against Chile will give them more motivation, as it is their opening game. The two teams previously clashed in the 2016 FIH Hockey World League Round 1 in Chiclayo, Peru, where Chile prevailed 2-0.
Chile went on to place first in Peru, and like Venezuela, they are hungry for wins, as well as a medal as they hope to place in the top three in the PAC for the first time in more than 10 years. Young Venezuela gun Cristian Vargas led all scorers in Round 1 with 12 goals in five games. He will be a body to keep an eye on, especially when going up against Chile’s goalkeeper Adrian Henriquez.
Brazil vs. Mexico – Friday, August 4 at 5:00 p.m. ET
The two nations have exchanged strikes in the win column in recent years in major international competition, and in nail biting fashion to boot. In 2015, it was Brazil that prevailed 1-0 in the Pan American Games, with Lucas Paixao netting the lone goal in the 44th minute. The year before, it was Mexico who won in a 3-0 shootout at the FIH Hockey World League Round 1 in Guadalajara.
Brazil comes in to PAC hoping to regroup after falling four spots in the FIH Hero World Rankings. A win would help form the team’s identity as well as keep pace with Canada lurking in Pool B. Look for Patrick Arnoud van der Heijden and Bruno da Silveira Mendonca to play significant roles for Brazil opposite veteran Mexican stars Edgar Garcia and Ruben Martinez.
Argentina vs. United States – Friday, August 4 at 7:00 p.m. ET
A true test for the red white and blue will be when they go up against the FIH Hero World Ranked No. 1 team in their first match to begin PAC play. In front of a home crowd, USA last met the bite of Los Leones in the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, falling 6-0 to the eventual champions, while finishing sixth. Since then, USA has taken a new shape, particularly within the role of head coach as Rutger Wiese aims for a high-ranked win since taking over the program in January.
For the reigning PAC Champions, the Pan American Games was a major platform for a young Gonzalo Peillat to begin his rise on the team as one of their top performers. Peillat led all scorers with 14 goals and looked just as dominant at the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals in London, England, where he finished with a leading 12 goals. USA will have an antidote in the form of goalkeeper Brandon Karess in the goal to ward off Peillat and company, while veteran leaders Pat Harris and William Holt will lead the counter attack on offense.
Canada vs. Brazil – Sunday, August 6 at 10:00 a.m. ET
A gold and three silver medals rest in Canada’s trophy case for past PAC achievements. A quest for a fifth means going through a rematch of the Pan American Games fourth-place match, where Canada topped Brazil 5-3 in shootouts after going scoreless in regulation.
Canada’s goalkeeper David Carter has been a big part in commanding their defensive efforts and is set to hit the 150 international cap mark in the tournament. In the FIH Hockey World League Round 2 in Tacarigua, Trinidad and Tobago, Carter also finished the tournament only allowing six goals in six games to earn a second-place finish behind Japan. Brazil’s dynamic duo brothers, Patrick and Yuri van der Heijden, could be an interesting match-up to put up against Carter in response. Offensively, Canada’s captain Scott Tupper will be tough to keep quiet following a team leading seven goals in Round 2 this past spring.
Trinidad and Tobago vs. Mexico – Sunday August 6 at 12:00 p.m. ET
Trinidad and Tobago want to top their sixth-place finish as host nation in April’s Hockey World League Round 2. Despite being from the same region, these two teams have only met a handful of times over the years, with the most recent being in the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games, where Trinidad and Tobago prevailed 1-0 in a semifinal match-up.
Teague Marcano led the squad with five goals for Trinidad and Tobago in Round 2, and combined with youngster Tariq Marcano, could offer a unique clash versus Mexico’s defense.
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