10/30/23 - We have to stop meeting like this. The USA567 Men's National Team played Romania for the third time in a major tournament and the second time this year. After settling for a hard-fought 0-0 tie to end play in Group D, the US finished in second place and advanced to the Round of 16 where they will play Czech Republic for the third time in four WMF World Cups.
Both the US and Romania went undefeated in group play, but Romania won the group with wins over Sudan and Spain, while the US tied Spain and beat Sudan.
After watching Romania involve their goalkeeper in their offense in a dominant first half against Spain, the US employed a strategy to try to diffuse the Romanians' potent offense.
"We executed the plan," said USA567 Technical Director Craig Rhodis. "I think the guys were great as far as the game plan. You know, maybe we should have opened it up a little bit a little sooner because ultimately we wanted to win the game, obviously, while being conscious of goal differential, and a tie gets us through. So it was a somewhat more cautious approach. I don't think there's a better team in the world than Romania in minifootball. So obviously any successful result that gets us through against that team is a good result."
It was the second time this year that the US and Romania played to a regulation tie, but unlike the EMF Nations Games, where the US prevailed in the Semifinal 3-2 on penalty kicks, there was no overtime or penalty kicks in group play to determine a victor.
The Americans' MASL counterparts on Mexico also advanced as a second place finisher. Mexico went 2-1 including a shocking 2-1 loss to Georgia, who went 3-0 to win the group. And guess what? If the US wins, and Mexico defeats Kazakhstan, the two old rivals will do battle again in the Quarterfinals.
The US is 1-1 against the Czech Republic, defeating them in the 2015 WMF World Cup, which was an arena soccer format, and losing to them in the Round of 16 in 2019 in Australia. Czech Republic won the 2017 WMF World Cup.
While the US will prioritize defense, and defense is what led them to the Nations Games title in Slovakia in May, the team has yet to fully unlock the creative potential of its MASL stars including Franck Tayou, Ian Bennett, Zach Reget, Mike Ramos, and Justin Stinson (who returns after a one game suspension).
Still minifootball is a different animal and the coaches will try to find ways to utilize those talents and apply them strategically. "Yeah, I think it's a difficult adjustment for the players in general," said Rhodis. "So, you know, being aware of the strengths of weaknesses of players helps us make that transition to minifootball."
The US plays Czech Republic on Wednesday at 5:00pm local time, 9:00am EDT, 6:00am PDT. All of the tournament games are being streamed live on Go Live Sports Cast. https://golivesportscast.com/world-mini-football-world-cup-2023-live-broadcast