SANTIAGO, Chile – At the Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago, Chile, the No. 22 U.S. Men’s National Team opened the 2022 Pan American Cup (PAC) with a hard-fought win over No. 37 Trinidad and Tobago in Pool B. It was a full 60-minute battle, where USA had to come from behind twice to secure the 4-3 victory.
"Getting the three points is the most important thing at this stage in this sort of qualifying tournament," said Harry Singh, USMNT Head Coach. "I'm proud of the team. Despite being down, 2-3, they pulled up their socks and finished the game with the solid win."
The first five minutes of the match saw USA hold an advantage as they threatened their attacking circle but were unable to get off a clean shot. The first real change came in the 6th minute, when Jack Heldens (Hamburg, Germany) used speed and sent a shot on goal that was saved by Trinidad goalkeeper Andrey Rocke. A minute following at the other end, Trinidad attacked the left baseline forcing USA goalkeeper Jonathan Klages (Berlin, Germany) to come out and make the block. USA took the lead with three minutes left in the frame, when Kei Kaeppeler (Stuttgart, Germany) ripped a low backhand into the back of the goal. With just 38 seconds to go before the break, Trinidad evened the score at 1-1 when Jordan Vieira broke through USA’s defense and push the ball into the net.
USA started the second quarter with a scare, when a defender tripped giving Trinidad a 1v1 situation with Klages. He came out, saved the shot off his shoulder and Aki Kaeppeler (New York City, N.Y.) was there to clean up the action. A close chance came for USA in the 20th minute, when a great reception by Kai Kokolakis (Wiesbaden, Germany) got around Trinidad’s defense but he was unable off the shot. USA kept up the persistent attack, collecting a few good looks and shots but couldn’t find the go ahead.
USA knew they had to capitalize on their scoring opportunities in the second half, in order to come out with the positive result. Heldens used skill to get by four Trinidad defenders and feed Johnny Orozco (Ventura, Calif.) on the left post, but Rocke came out to make the save. The official called a penalty corner, but Trinidad used their referral and reversed the call. Still without a set chance, USA dug deep and continued to threaten. In the 42nd minute, a great passing sequence that started deep down field after a Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) stop went to Christian DeAngelis (Doylestown, Pa.) who found Paul Singh (Simi Valley, Calif.) with space in the midfield. He attacked forward and sent a ball down to the right post that Vincent Heller (Stuttgart, Germany) deflected in to retake the 2-1 lead. Two minutes following, USA got disposed deep in their defensive circle and undisciplined play earned Trinidad a penalty stroke, which Tariq Marcano converted. Seconds later, another USA defensive error led to Trinidad capitalizing through Joel Daniel to take the lead. With just 8 seconds to go in the frame, USA earned their first penalty corner of the game. Although the first chance was a re-award, A. Kaeppeler evened the match again on a low drag into the corner, 3-3.
The fourth quarter opened with back-and-forth play, and Klages making a big save. With 6 minutes to go, USA earned a penalty stroke after Heldens was fouled hard as he teed himself up for a backhand shot. Although the play was referred by Trinidad, the call stood and A. Kaeppeler regained the lead for USA. Battling with end-to-end action, the final minutes saw both teams earn a penalty corner, but the final score stood in favor of USA, 4-3.
“It was a really tough game, and we are just really, really happy that we won it in the end,” said A. Kaeppeler. “I think we did pretty well in general but not in the attacking 25 and our defensive 25. We have to improve on our goal scoring opportunities and not give [our opponents] high quality chances for their circle entries."
The USA men will return to the pitch Saturday, January 22 when they face No. 10 Canada in their second pool game at 2:15 p.m. ET.
For more information regarding the 2022 Pan American Cups, visit the event page.
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