16 Players Selected to Represent the U.S. in Lithuania
The 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup is around the corner with less than two weeks away from kickoff. The tournament that was delayed a year due to Covid-19 is preparing for the return of international futsal in Lithuania. The upcoming edition will welcome the United States for the first time since 2008 as the Americans look to make their presence known in Eastern Europe.
A total of 384 players are expected in Lithuania. Each team is allowed a 16-man roster instead of the usual 14. The increase is due to the Covid-19 measures put in place for the event.
Futsal News: U.S. Futsal National Team head coach Dusan Jakica has selected 16 players to represent the United States at the 2021 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Lithuania. The international futsal tournament will be held from September 12-October 3.
The U.S. team will hold a pre-tournament training camp from Sept. 1-8 in Bratislava, Slovakia, before traveling to Vilnius, Lithuania – the site of the U.S.’s first two group matches.
The roster is led by captain and veteran goalkeeper Diego Moretti who has played professional futsal in Italy for the last 17 years. Luciano Gonzalez (Italy) and Tomas Pondeca (France) also play futsal in Europe. Gonzalez led the U.S. with five combined goals and assists at May’s Concacaf Futsal Championship in Guatemala, while the 19-year-old Pondeca, who leads the team with six goals this cycle, was named Young Player of the Tournament.
Pondeca, a Dallas teenager, scored in back-to-back friendlies against Slovenia in March 2020 and twice against Moldova at the 2020 Futsal Week Winter Cup in Porec, Croatia. He then scored against Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic during the Concacaf Futsal Championship.
Jeremy Klepal and Julian Escobar tied Gonzalez for the team lead with three goals each at the Concacaf Futsal Championship.
Twelve players on the roster helped the U.S. qualify for its first Futsal World Cup since 2008 – including all eight goal-scorers – by defeating the Dominican Republic 2-0 in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Concacaf Futsal Championship. The Americans finished runner-up to Costa Rica at the qualifying tournament.
U.S. Futsal Men’s National Team Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Diego Moretti (Ancona, Italy; Unattached), 11-Robert Damron (Northville, Mich.; Michigan Futsal Factory), 12-Estevan Vazquez (Fort Worth, Texas; Mesquite Outlaws)
ALAS (7): 3-Jeremy Klepal (Lansing, Mich.; Lansing City FC), 6-Luciano Gonzalez (Mendoza, Argentina; Citta di Massa C5/ITA), 8-Daniel Mattos (Chicago, Ill.; Milwaukee Wave), 9-David Ortiz (Dallas, Texas; Dallas Sidekicks), 10-Tomas Pondeca (Dallas, Texas; Paris Acasa/FRA), 14-Diego Bobadilla-Mireles (Holland, Mich.; St. Louis Ambush), 16-Alencar Ventura-Junior (Tewksbury, Mass.; Safira Futsal)
FIXOS (3): 4-Eduardo Buenfil (San Jose, Calif.; Unattached), 5-Julian Escobar (Hicksville, NY; Harrisburg Heat), 15-Guilherme Veiga (Milwaukee, Wisc.; Milwaukee Wave)
PIVOS (3): 2-Raphael Araujo (Bound Brook, N.J.; NY Ecuador FC), 7-Everson Maciel (Milford, Conn.; Safira Futsal), 13-Zach Reget (Kenosha, Wisc.; Florida Tropics)
Head Coach: Dusan Jakica
Assistant Coaches: Pablo Da Silva, Otto Orf
Tournament Preview: U.S. Futsal National Team
This year marks the United States’ sixth appearance at the FIFA Futsal World Cup. The U.S. finished third in 1989 and reached the final of the 1992 tournament, taking home the silver medal in its highest-ever finish at the competition. The country’s other FIFA Futsal World Cup appearances came in 1996, 2004 and 2008.
The U.S. Futsal National Team will face Argentina, Iran and Serbia in Group F.
“It’s an exciting draw for us,” said Jakica. “Opening against the world champion in Argentina will be a huge challenge, but a challenge that our team will embrace and enjoy. Iran is the reigning Asian champion and Serbia is also one of the best teams in the world, but we will be ready. We are looking forward to getting to Lithuania and showcasing the progress for U.S. Soccer in futsal.”
Media Credit: U.S. Soccer