Editor's Note: This is the second post by US Paralympic Team pool player Jasper Wilson on the American attempt to qualify for the 2012 Paralympic games in London. For a primer on the team and the rules for what is also called CP Soccer, see Jasper's introductory post here.

- Jasper Wilson

The U.S. Paralympic Soccer team's qualification for the 2012 Paralympic Games is akin to a World Cup qualification for the other national teams of US Soccer. The team is quite young (it was the youngest squad at the Copa America and one of if not the youngest at Worlds) making their accomplishment of qualifying for the Paralympic Games that much more impressive.

The team began its qualifying campaign in the fall of 2010 when it competed in the Copa America in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The tournament was held at the training complex of Boca Juniors. The team took second in the competition, which was between the six CP Soccer teams in North and South America. It was the team’s best ever result in international competition. Their top 4 finish enabled the team to continue on their quest to qualify for London as it earned them a berth in the CPISRA World Championships in the Netherlands at the end of June - the World Championships serves as the direct qualifier to the Paralympics in London next year.

The 3 other teams from the North America/South America region that joined the U.S. in Holland were: Argentina, Brazil, and Canada. Three teams represented the Asian region (Iran, Japan, and South Korea) and the rest of the field was European countries (Ireland, England, Scotland, Spain, Russia, Ukraine, Holland, and Finland) with Australia also competing in the European zone for qualifying. Unlike the Olympics, the countries of Great Britain (Only Scotland and England have CP Soccer) did not merge teams. Both countries did, however, qualify automatically for the games.

The U.S.’s group in Holland consisted of Iran (an eventual finalist in the tournament and bronze medal winner at the 2008 Paralympics), Ireland, (participant in the 2008 Paralympics) and Japan.

The team began the tournament against Japan, a perennial whipping boy, and handled business accordingly winning 4-0.

The second group stage game would be more of a test. After playing the easiest team in the group the Americans had a meeting with the Iranians. The team was unable to contain the defending runners-up falling by a score of 7-2.

After two games Iran sat atop the group with six points, Ireland and the U.S. were in a deadlock at 3 points and Japan was bringing up the rear with 0 points.

The US’s final game in the group was an epic showdown with the Irish. The game was of tremendous importance: win and qualify for London, lose and fail to reach the Paralympics for the second consecutive time.

Josh McKinney the captain of the squad, who is the most capped player in the team’s history with 95 and also has scored the most goals in US Men’s Soccer History with 75, scored two consecutive goals for his second brace of the tournament putting the team in front 2-0. Adam Ballou, one of the squad’s young guns, tallied a third goal, one that would end up being the game winner. The Irish staged a furious comeback, scoring two unanswered goals, but the Americans were able to hold on to win 3-2. Qualification for London was secure.

With group play over it was on to the second and final stage of the tournament. A second place finish in the group meant that their opponent in the first round was Russia, ’08 Paralympic silver medalists. The US lost 10-1.

That result landed the team in the loser’s bracket where they met Scotland. Scotland and the US played a competitive match in the group stage at the 2009 World Championships, which Scotland won 2-1. This meeting would prove to be equally as competitive. The game was tied 2-2 at half but unfortunately for the U.S., it had a familiar conclusion with the Americans finding themselves again on the losing end of a close encounter 3-2.

In the team’s final game of the tournament they faced off against regional foe Argentina, who they had tied 2-2 at the Copa America, in the seventh place game. The Americans were unable to duplicate the result they got in 2010 though, falling to the Argentines 7-2.

When it was all said and done the U.S. Paralympic Soccer Team had compiled a 2-4 overall record going 2-1 in group play and 0-3 in the second round finishing in eighth place.

With the obstacle of qualification overcome, the focus now turns to preparing for London.

blog comments powered by Disqus
    KKTC Bahis Siteleri, Online Bahis



    Privacy Policy