GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala – The U.S. futsal national team won its first game at the Concacaf Futsal Championship, but it was a result that was tainted by a racial slur by an opposing player.
The Americans jumped out to a three-goal lead and recorded a 4-2 victory over Nicaragua on the second matchday of the competition.
The triumph was the USA’s first in the Concacaf Futsal Championship since 2012, when the team defeated Canada, 3-2, in the second match of group play.
The win, combined with El Salvador’s 2-1 triumph over Cuba earlier, puts the USA atop Group D heading into Wednesday group finale match against Cuba.
The match, however, was tainted when a Nicaraguan player hurled a racial slur at a USA player. Concacaf was informed of the incident and will investigate.
“Language and behavior of this nature are unacceptable,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement. “Bigotry, prejudice and hatred will never have a place in our game or our society. U.S. Soccer took action by filing an official report with Concacaf and was subsequently informed that an investigation will begin immediately.”
U.S. Soccer Statement on Racial Abuse at Concacaf Futsal Championship pic.twitter.com/e5JT6Gbu3j
— U.S. Soccer Extended National Teams (@ussoccer_ENT) May 5, 2021
With games on consecutive days, USA head coach Dusan Jakica started the match with a different foursome on the court in front of goalkeeper Diego Moretti.
The Americans grabbed the lead less than four minutes after kickoff. Luciano Gonzalez brought the ball into the offensive side and slipped the ball beyond an approaching defender to Jeremy Klepal, who first-timed a low shot through the legs of goalkeeper Alejandro Sequeira.
Gonzalez set up Eduardo Buenfil on the top right of the arc. Buenfil took one touch to his right and shot tp tje far post over Sequiera’s right shoulder to double the lead heading into the break.
The USA made it 3-0 midway through the second half. Zach Reget kept a ball in play right before the corner flag and cut back towards goal. His shot was partially deflected and fell to Klepal, who put it away from five yards for his second goal. Klepal became first U.S. player with multiple goals in a World Cup qualifier since Pat Morris (two) and Matthew Stewart (three) did so in the third-place match of the 2008 Concacaf Futsal Championship.
Nicaragua did not give up easily. Los Pinoleros’ Bryan Corea gathered a clearance some 12 yards out and fired a shot to the far post past Moretti.
Buenfil was shown a red card immediately after a yellow and Nicaragua took advantage of the opportunity to play a man up for two minutes. Moretti made three saves in the first minute, but on one block off his chest, the ball rebounded up top and Patrick Luna put it away from 10 yards to cut the margin to 4-2.
Moretti came with numerous saves to keep the one-goal advantage and then helped put the game away with a 35-yard bomb downfield that Tomas Pondeca flicked in with his back to goal from five yards out.
The USA will look to secure a place in the tournament quarterfinals when it meets Cuba in the Group D finale Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, live on TUDN. A number of scenarios are at play for the USA to advance, some pending the result of the earlier match between El Salvador and Nicaragua.