Two tight affairs went down on Day 3 of the XIX Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile as Brazil scored early twice to beat Trinidad and Tobago 2-1, while Canada had two come-back goals to take down the USA also by a score of 2-1. Canada now take the top of Pool B with two wins.
MEN Pool B: Brazil (2) – Trinidad & Tobago (1)
It was a dream start for Brazil who out-paced Trinidad and Tobago from the opening minutes. A long ball across the pitch found the stick of Stephane Verle-Smith who patiently waited for the stick of captain André Patrocínio to come available. Patrocínio curled and beat Trinidad and Tobago keeper Andrey Rocke low and hard for Brazil’s 1-0 lead in just the second minute of play.
Tariq Marcano tried to calm his side and move the ball but impatience and mistraps kept Brazil’s counter attack alive and thriving. Verle-Smith doubled Brazil’s lead as a great pass came to him unmarked at the top of the circle and his blast ricocheted off the backboard, stunning Rocke, for a 2-0 lead. Trinidad and Tobago did manage three penalty corners in the first half but none would truly test Brazil keeper Rodrigo Faustino. Impressive skills from Brazil Lucas Paixão saw the striker craft his way through several sticks in the TTO circle before flipping a shot past Rocke but the ball pinged off the post and stayed out.
It took three penalty corners in the early moments of the third quarter to get Trinidad and Tobago on the board. A flick from Tariq Marcano was saved by keeper Rodrigo Faustino but Mickell Pierre was there to flip the ball into the mesh to cut Brazil’s lead to one.
The fourth quarter was a physical battle with each team serving yellow card suspensions but neither able to further find the back of the net. Brazil had a chance to secure their lead in the 55th minute with a penalty corner but Matheus Borges’ flick was deflected high over the net by a charging Shaquille Daniel.
Trinidad and Tobago pressed with nothing to lose and a penalty corner in the dying minutes came back to Mickell but Patrocínio was there to make the save at the near post. In the final minute Brazil earned one final corner attempts but Verle-Smith’s flick went wide of Rocke’s net.
Brazil celebrated the 2-1 victory, their best result against Trinidad and Tobago since a tie in an Olympics test event in 2015.
“The game against Trinidad and Tobago was very good, we needed this,” said Brazil’s André Patrocínio. “We have to rest now and start preparing for Friday’s match to be able to arrive with everything. We had a good preparation to form this team, the physical, technical and tactical preparation. We are looking to play our best game and achieve the best possible position.”
“I feel pretty upset because we actually had the game in our hands but we just gave it away in the first half,” said a somber Joel Daniel of Trinidad and Tobago. “We had many chances at the goal and we just needed to finish and that’s how it is.”
MEN Pool B: USA (1) – Canada (2)
There was never any doubt that the battle of North America would be a gritty, tight affair. USA opened the scoring but Canada found their strides to take the Pool B tilt 2-1. Gordie Johnston provided the game heroics scoring the game winner on his 200th international appearance, while Flo Van Son notched Canada’s first and Aki Kaeppeler scored for the USA.
The opening half was largely dominated in possession by the USA and the Americans earned the first penalty corner of the game. Kaeppeler continued with his scoring ways, burying a low flick in the bottom corner past the left foot of Canadian keeper Ethan McTavish. The Americans had two more penalty corners but they were run down by Brendan Guraliuk and intercepted by Johnston. Canada thought they found their tying goal when Johnston’s long ball in to the circle was deflected by Matthew Sarmento but Jonathan Klages was sharp in the USA goal.
The second quarter featured much more Canada attack despite some clever runs coming from USA veteran Pat Harris. The teams traded opportunities and the physicality increased as the match went on.
Finally, Canada’s break came when Thomson Harris ran the right side and fed Flo van Son’s who hands effortlessly carried the ball along the baseline through traffic before flipping it in past Klages to tie the game 1-1.
The USA came out in the third quarter with a burst of energy through Marius Lesser, who forced McTavish off his line, but was unable to gain any space. Van Son was finding all kinds of room in the other end, blasting a shot on his back-hand in the 39th minute but Klages, again looking sharp, denied the initial shot as well as Sarmento’s rebound attempts. Captain Canada, Johnston, gave the Red Caribou the 2-1 advantage on a penalty corner flick that rang the backboard in the 41st minute. Minutes later Johnston was on the line bravely denying USA’s Aki Kaeppeler on a low flick.
USA’s best chance came on a ball from Nicolas Kuehne across Canada’s goal and Leser was there but couldn’t connect on the pace of the ball. A yellow card to Kaeppeler put the USA on their heels and gave Canada the offensive momentum. Johnston had a penalty corner flick saved by the left glove of Klages, then Guraliuk generated a shot and an air-born rebound off Klages. Van Son brilliantly smashed the ball out of the air on his back-hand but it somehow was denied again by Klages.
A high aerial from Keegan Pereira looking for Oliver Scholfield in the circle resulted in a penalty stroke for Canada, after Scholfield’s shot was interfered with. Johnston stepped up to the mark, but Klages brilliantly made the stick save.
Play moved end to end until the final whistle and the Canadians clung to their 2-1 lead and ultimately the final score. Canada now move to the top of Pool B with six points, while the USA and Brazil follow with a win and a loss each.
“I thought we were hyper focused today and did a really good job of executing the game plan,” said Canada’s Johnston after the match. “I liked our defensive energy and we created a lot going forward as well. It was special today for sure. When you play important games on your milestones it really means a lot. It’s been a long journey to get here so I’m really happy with how it went.”
“I think we started off the game really well and we took the lead,” described USA’s Aki Kaeppeler. “We got the ball moving quite well in the beginning and then we kind of lost our composure a bit in the second half. There were some good stretches in the second half too but all in all we have to be a bit more composed and play smarter.”