Sam Hoddersen shoots from the wing for the United States vs Brazil. Photo courtesy of Brazilian Handball Federation
The Women’s Pan American Games Team Handball competition continues tonight with semifinal action, but waiting in the wings are the U.S. Men. Prior to arriving in Peru just in time for the opening ceremonies the USA Men’s National Team held a productive training camp in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The camp included several practices and two friendly matches vs Brazil, one of the favorites to win the Pan American Games competition.
In the first match the U.S. got off to a fast start, perhaps surprising Brazil a bit with several players they had not previously seen or played against. The U.S. even won the first half 14-11. In the second half Brazil came back for the eventual 25-23 win. Abou Fofana led the U.S. in scoring with 6 goals with multiple players also contributing in a balanced scoring attack. The second match saw Brazil more prepared to the U.S. and they dominated the match from start to finish for a 28-16 victory.
One slight wrinkle for the U.S. during these friendlies was that both goalkeepers selected for the Pan American Games roster, Rene Ingram and Nicholas Robinson, were unavailable due to their participation in the Jr World Championships in Spain. As a result, the USA borrowed two keepers from a Brazilian club team. Both Ingram and Robinson played well in Spain, gaining valuable game time experience and have since joined the team in Peru
Making his debut for Team USA was Back Court, Sayed Shalaby, who plays for the New York City Handball Club. The USA also welcomed back, Circle Runner/Defensive Specialist, Domogoj Srsen who plays for Hannover in the German Bundesliga. Srsen had last played for the U.S. eight years ago at the PANAM Games.
Overall, U.S. Men’s Head Coach, Robert Hedin was pleased with the training camp noting that “he and the coaching staff were able to get a look at some players that joined the team for the first time and that it was good to see where would could get better and test some strategies.”
Having Domagoj Srsen available has also been seen as a real plus as “he brings stability to our defense and also some more options for us on offense.
Coach Hedin also see some areas that the U.S. needs to work on: “We need better cohesion on offense. We understand it takes time, but we are happy with the direction we are going.”
The U.S. Men will start their PANAM Games competition vs Group A favorites, Argentina on Wednesday at 7:30 PM (US ET). The match will be streamed live on ESPN 3.