HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. - The U.S. National Futsal Team returned to the States after spending the past week in Fortaleza, Brazil, for a set of friendlies against Brazilian professional clubs. The team, which consists of Storm midfielders Matthew Stewart and Andy Rosenband, and goalkeeper Jeff Richey, earned one victory in three exhibition matches.
Richey was in the net for two matches. On Wednesday, May 7, Team USA defeated Quixeramobim, 3-2. Richey and the U.S. defense held Quixeramobim scoreless in the second half.
"I heard it was the first game the (U.S. Futsal) Team won in Brazil," Richey said. "It was an awesome feeling to win that first game there. It was pretty big, and we had to adjust getting back to the ball after having two weeks off from indoor. All the guys were excited."
"I think with Jeff's ability in the indoor game and his experience with the national team one time last year, he has all the ingredients to be a fine futsal goalkeeper," U.S. Futsal coach Keith Tozer said. "I thought he did quite well. ... We have a great tandem with Nick (Vorberg) and Jeff."
On Thursday, May 8, Horizante topped the U.S., 5-3. Team USA held leads of 2-1 and 3-2 at separate stages of the match. But Horizante tallied the game's final three goals. When the match was tied at 3-3, Vorberg was pulled so the team could work on its fifth-attacker set.
On Friday, May 9, the U.S. fell to the Federa??o Cearense All-Stars, 6-1. Richey was in goal for the U.S.
"The Brazilians, one-on-one, they're unbelievable," Richey said. "That's where we need to get better. Our team defense is good. But we need to get better one- on-one."
Richey, Rosenband and Stewart represent three of the Storm's four members of Chicago's inaugural 2004 squad - the fourth being Mark Ughy. Richey, who also traveled with the national team last year to Brazil, is soaking in the chance to play alongside two familiar faces.
"It's a great opportunity, going through this with them," Richey said of Rosenband and Stewart. "It makes you feel more comfortable, and we have a little more chemistry."
The Brazilian trip is a tune-up for the CONCACAF Futsal Championship tournament June 3 to 8 at Guatemala City, Guatemala. The defending champion U.S. is in Group B with Haiti, Panama and Costa Rica. The top three teams in the eight-team tournament qualify for the FIFA Futsal World Cup, which runs Sept. 30 to Oct. 19, in Brazil.
"Costa Rica has been one of our biggest opponents since 1996," Tozer said of the CONCACAF draw. "Panama is a very good team, and they have a good goalkeeper. And Haiti hasn't played futsal that much. But they all will be tough teams."
Tozer captained the U.S. National Futsal Team in 1986 and has coached the squad since 1996. The Milwaukee Wave head coach brought 14 players to train in Brazil. Six U.S. players have not played competitive futsal before, Tozer said.
"Our whole futsal success is based on our physicality," Tozer said. "Rather than the tactical side, we rely more on high-pressure defense that creates havoc, and good goalkeeping."
Futsal features four field players and a goalkeeper on each team. Unlike the MISL, futsal has no walls, the ball is smaller and has less bounce than traditional soccer balls, and the goals are much smaller. The game was invented in Brazil, and it is sanctioned by FIFA as the only form of international indoor soccer.
Fuego's Nunes stays hot: Chicago Storm 2008 MISL College Draft pick Amaury Nunes continued his strong start in the United Soccer Leagues' Premier Development League (PDL). On Saturday, May 10, Nunes scored two goals as the Fresno Fuego defeated the Southern California Seahorses, 2-1, in La Mirada, Calif. Nunes has scored three goals in Fresno's two games this season.