PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico – The United States clinched a berth at the 2019 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup with a dramatic penalty-kick win over El Salvador Saturday.
After the teams played to a 3-3 draw through three periods and added extra time, the Americans won the shootout in the Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship, 5-4. The win also advanced the team to Sunday’s final against Mexico, which defeated Panama 3-0 in the other semifinal.
This was the fifth time the U.S. has qualified for the Beach Soccer World Cup and first since 2013.
The Americans scored on all five penalty kick attempts before El Salvador’s Elmer Robles hit his kick over the net. Nick Perera, Oscar Reyes, Chris Toth, Tanner Akol and David Mondragon converted their tries for the U.S.
For the second consecutive game the U.S. conceded the opening goal when El Salvador’s Exon Perdomo put away a hard shot after picking up a loose ball some 15 yards out. El Salvador nearly doubled the lead 10 minutes in when a shot hit the crossbar but landed and stuck on the goal line. With the opening period clock running out, Perera drew a foul about 12 yards out and put away the shot in the upper 90 to draw even.
Perera scored his 11th goal of the tournament, tying his personal and USA single-cycle World Cup qualifying record set in 2013. He is tied with teammate Akol for most goals in this tournament.
Toth, the U.S. goalkeeper, was put under heavy pressure in the second period but time again came through. He made diving saves on two bicyle kicks and a point-blank scissors attempt. El Salvador broke through in the last minute of the second period when Perdomo ripped a shot past Toth.
There was little Toth could do when Perdomo hit a bike off a long pass to put El Salvador up by two goals midway through the third period. The Americans reacted quickly, with Toth ripping a 25-yard shot at goal that Alessandro Canale redirected in front of the goalkeeper to cut the deficit to one.
With 1:20 remaining, Mondragon caught El Salvador napping with a quick throw-in from the far sideline, finding Adriano dos Santos inside the box. Dos Santos headed the ball over the on-rushing goalkeeper and the stadium watched as the ball seemed to slowly trickle in to tie the match at 3-3.