SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - To say it was a thriller is an understatement.
Robert Renaud (13) beats two U.S. defenders in last nights opening qualifying match
Photo Credit: Tammy Moore
The Canadian Men’s National Futsal Team came back from a three goal deficit in the second half to draw 4-4 against the U.S. in the 1st leg of their CONCACAF Futsal Championship qualifying series. The final leg takes place Thursday evening at the BN Arena where the winner will advance to the group stage starting on May 8th.
Canada almost went up early on when Hamilton native Ian Bennett’s breakaway attempt was thwarted by the American keeper just two minutes in.
Although the opening frame was a defensively tight one on both ends the Americans went up 1-0 at 19:17 when forward Franck Tayou placed his shot well into the low right corner. That was only the goal of the half as the U.S. led going into half.
The 2nd half was a completely different story to the defensive focus in the opening 20 minutes as a total of seven goals were scored.
The intensity picked up after 27 year-old Matias Dimarco of Brampton picked up a caution in the 24th minute after an aggressive tackle.
A minute later, the Americans almost doubled up but a superb clearance from veteran defender Desmond Humphrey saved what appeared to be a sure goal.
Unfortunately for Canada they would get caught at the back as Joey Tavernese made a strong pass into the goal area where Patrick Healey slotted it in to give the U.S. a 2-0 advantage.
A minute and a half later the Stars and Stripes would make it 3-0 when Bryan Perez notched a subtle flick over a sprawling Joshua Lemos.
Despite their strong lead, the Americans would get into foul trouble and were forced to stay back defensively which allowed the Canadians to press hard. The Red and White were rewarded with their first goal when Bennett blasted a low shot that U.S. keeper Danny Waltman simply could not contain.
With less than five minutes remaining the U.S. called a timeout but it was Canada that would capitalize when Dimarco delivered a fine strike to bring Canada within a goal.
After the U.S. conceded their 6th foul it was Montreal’s Nazim Belguendouz that would step up to the 10m spot and the 25 year old would make no mistake as he drilled a bullet past Waltman to tie the game up.
Amazingly Canada would take the improbable lead with their third goal in under three minutes as Toronto’s Jacob Orellana made an excellent series of dribbles that fooled his defender and delivered a sublime finish that Waltman had no chance on.
Both Waltman and Lemos were stellar in goal for their respective sides but it was Lemos that would get caught out of his goal off an American free kick with under 30 seconds left that allowed the Americans to tie it 4-4.
Canada will have an opportunity to advance to their second consecutive CONCACAF Futsal Championship with a win on Thursday evening. In a similar position four years ago, they came back against El Salvador by scoring two goals in the final 20 seconds, including the winner by Lemos with five seconds remaining.
Futsal is a unique, fast-paced indoor sport played across Canada and around the world. Canada Soccer is committed to the growth and promotion of the game. At the elite club level, Canada Soccer supports domestic competition through the annual Futsal Canadian Championship. Canada Soccer also supports playing opportunities provided by the National Futsal Team in international competitions including the FIFA Futsal World Cup.
Canada's starting five featured 2012 CONCACAF hero Joshua Lemos in goal, Matias Di Marco, Captain Vahid Assadpour, and Freddy Moojen along with Ian Bennett.
Of note, Canada’s starting goalkeeper Joshua Lemos, playing in his 6th game for Canada was celebrating his 27th birthday.
“We kept going on to fight. It doesn’t matter if we were down 1-0 or 2-0 It’s hard to beat somebody that never gives up. We took it one shift at a time. We pressed a bit higher, and made some tactical changes and it paid off. We’re going to leave everything on the court on tomorrow, I’m very happy with the boys, it’ll be another close one.”
Canadian Futsal Head Coach Kyt Selaidopoulos
“We showed a lot of fight and a lot of urgency, showed a lot of heart. We were down early and it wasn;t looking too good, But we stuck to the game plan and stayed the course and that’s what happens as we ended up taking the lead. That’s why I love being Canadian man. No one was scared and we all picked up shift by shift and it was great to see. It was really awesome to see all the boys come together.”
Canadian futsal veteran Ian Bennett
Jacob Orelllana (not pictured) scores Canada's 4th goal of the night
Photo Credit Tammy Moore