The 2009 Men’s Pan American opened today on the beautiful facilities of the Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago, Chile. The first day was played under a very hot sunny sky. Argentina, Canada and Chile won their first game fairly easily, but the USA had to come back from behind to clinch a crucial win against Trinidad & Tobago.
Argentina vs. Uruguay: 18 - 0 (half-time: 11-0)
Pan American Cup holder Argentina were the first in action against the lowest ranked team, Uruguay, and had little problem to assert their superiority, opening their tally in the 3rd minute by Lucas VILA and adding 10 other before half-time, some after lengthy and spectacular series of passes that mesmerized the young Uruguayan defense.
With the sun high in the sky and the temperature rising, Argentina didn’t push themselves too hard in second half, overwhelming the Uruguayan defense with 7 additional goals. Lucas VILA scored a total of five, Mario ALMADA four, and nine other players managed to put their name on the score sheet with one goal each.
Federico GARCIA, the Uruguayan goalkeeper, was the busiest player on the field, while his counterpart in the Argentinean goal hardly saw any action, even from a distance. Uruguay nevertheless kept trying and forced a penalty-corner in the last fifteen minutes but could not capitalize on it.
Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA: 3 - 4 (half-time: 0-0)
The next encounter of the day between Trinidad & Tobago and the USA was much more lively and close. T&T seemed to take the upper hand in first half but were kept at bay by a very tight and composed American defense that denied any dangerous shots on goal.
The pace of the game remained fast in second half despite the scorching heat, with opportunities at both ends. Finally Dwain QUAN CHAN opened the scoring in the 41st minute with a field goal, but the USA replied immediately when Jonathan GINOLFI played coolly a one-on-one with Glen FRANCIS in the Trinidadian goal. The deadlock didn’t last long, Kwan BROWNE putting his team back on top with a master penalty-corner. Tempers were flaring high on the pitch and the umpires had to distribute a few yellow cards to calm down the protagonists.
Trinidad thought that they had put the game out of reach of the USA with another penalty-corner by Kwan BROWN, but the Americans came within one goal by Sean HARRIS, setting the stage for a very intense end of match. In a spectacular twist of event, USA tied the score with six minutes to go by Jonathan GINOLFI then, having found back their legs and their second wind, besieged the Trinidadian goal, Jonathan GINOLFI completing his hat-trick with the winning goal in the last minute of play.
USA earned a crucial win that could be key for the qualification for the semi-finals.
Canada vs. Brazil: 10 - 1 (half-time: 6-1)
The pace of the game between Canada and Brazil suffered from the heat of the afternoon. Canada had total control of the ball from start to finish, but took their time and only scored their first goal in the 9th minute when Gabbar SINGH slotted a cracking shot just under the crossbar. Gabbar SINGH scored two more goals within a few minutes, completing his hat-trick in the 22nd minute.
Canada scored a total of six goals in first period, but Brazil made the best of a miscommunication in the Canadian defense to score a goal of their own just before the break by Igor FIGUTI.
The Canadians scored 4 more goals in second half for a total 10, including a hat-trick on penalty-corner for Scott TUPPER, but they did not need to dig too deep in their resources and their talent to earn the 3 points of the win.
Chile vs. Mexico: 7 - 2 (half-time: 6-1)
After the Opening Ceremony, the game between Chile and Mexico was played in a beautiful end of afternoon, in front of a large crowd (including the highest sport dignitaries in the country) and broadcast live on national television.
The young Mexican team resisted well to start with, and seemed able to be dangerous with their speed, but Chile opened the score in spectacular fashion in the 10th minute by Cristóbal RODRÍGUEZ, inheriting a superb pass by Sebastián KAPSCH who had carried the ball for 50 meters. A few minutes later, Chile doubled the score on penalty-stroke by Esteban KRAINZ.
From them on, The Chilean players were on a roll, much to the pleasure of the local fans who cheered loudly each new goal. There was nothing that the Mexican players seemed able to do to stop the flood, even less when they were reduced to ten players after a yellow card. Ironically, it is when they were one player short that they managed to be the most threatening and score a goal by Cesar GARCIA, limiting the score at half time to 6-1.
The play was much more balanced in second half. Even though Chile controlled most of the play, they seemed to be under constant threat of the fast Mexican counter-attacks. Chile managed to score a single goal by Martin RODRÍGUEZ but Mexico answered with a goal by Bruno PERAZA, for a final score of 7-2.
The 2009 Pan American Cup continues tomorrow (Sunday) in Santiago, when Uruguay meet the USA, Trinidad & Tobago take on Argentina, Brazil play Mexico and host Chile conclude the day against Canada.
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