Costa Rica Wins CONCACAF Futsal Championship
Costa Rica faced the United States in the championship match of the 2021 CONCACAF Futsal Championship.
The road to the final for the Ticos saw them finish atop Group C with dominant victories over Haiti (7-0) and Canada (5-1) before eliminating Suriname with an emphatic 12-1 win in the quarter-final as well as a 3-1 result against rivals Panama in the semis. With 27 goals scored and only 3 goals allowed from their four games, it was evident that Costa Rica were heavy favourites to win their third consecutive title.
The United States showcased what can happen when a nation hires a futsal-specific coach to turn around a program as they brought in the experienced Serbian Dusan Jakica.
They were drawn into Group D, the only one with four teams and as a result played three group stage matches. After a lacklustre 1-1 draw against El Salvador on matchday 1, the Americans got their first victory at a CFC since 2012 as they doubled up on Nicaragua with a 4-2 result. Their final match against Cuba saw Julian Escobar notch a hat-trick en route to another 4-2 win that set them up with a surprising Dominican Republic team that were participating in their first CFC. It was a close match but the stingy US defence were able to stave off the tournament debutants with a 2-0 result. In the semis they would win in penalties after a 2-2 scoreline against hosts Guatemala to earn a spot in the championship match.
The first half were full of fireworks with the US getting on the scoreboard first courtesy of a nice 25m run and finish by Lucho Gonzalez in the 6th minute.
Costa Rica evened things up in the 12th when Daniel Gomez finished off a great 1-2 passing play before taking the lead only two minutes after when a US turnover led to a hard shot by Juan Cordero beat Diego Moretti.
The US would equalize in the most sensational of ways when Zach Reget received a chip pass that he scorpioned over his defender and chipped it over the goalkeeper in what has to be one of the best futsal goals of all time.
In the 19th minute Costa Rica would take the lead again after Milinton Tijerino baited in Alecar Ventura with a beautiful series of drag backs before exploding down the sideline in a beautiful triple passing series that was tapped in by Gomez to go up 3-2 at the half.
The 2nd half saw may goal scoring opportunities for both sides but the keepers stood tall throughout the frame making big save after save.
Even with the high pressure and stakes no additional goals would be scored as Costa Rica held on to capture the three-peat and show once again that they are still the gold standard in CONCACAF Futsal.
CONCACAF AWARD Winners:
BEST PLAYER AWARD: Milinton Tijerino (Costa Rica)
BEST YOUNG PLAYER: Tomas Pondeca (United States)
GOLDEN BOOT AWARD: Carlos Perez (Panama) 8 goals
BEST GOALKEEPER AWARD: Cesar Vargas (Costa Rica)
FAIR PLAY AWARD: Costa Rica