Indoor USMNT Falls to Namibia in Opening Match of Nkosi Cup
CAPE TOWN, South Africa - The No. 8 U.S. Men's National Indoor Team fell, 3-5, to No. 13 Namibia in the opening match of the 2023 Nkosi Cup, taking place in Cape Town, South Africa.
"It was a great start to our Nkosi Cup game against an organized Namibian team," said Jason Mulder, Indoor USMNT Head Coach. "We are happy with our organization on the field as well as some of the combination plays we created. With a young group who haven’t played a lot together they can be happy with this start."
USA opened the game with the first shot on goal by Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) that was easily kicked away by Namibia goalkeeper David Strauss. Harris followed up with a shot that went just wide. The Wolves kept up the pressure but in the 3rd minute, Namibia got on the board when Owen Hatton capitzalized on a deep turnover. Four minutes later, Harris had a great intercept that led to a shot. Jack Weitzman (Fulton, Md.) collected the rebound and followed up with a chance, that led to a penalty corner for USA. Aki Kaeppeler (New York City, N.Y.) evened it at 1-1 with a shot into the net. With a minute to go in the first quarter, Namibia won a penalty stroke and Liam Hermanus converted to make it 1-2.
Althought the second frame saw high presses that led to turnovers, the scoreline didn't change. A few circle penetrations were created for both sides but it was Namibia who earned a set piece with 2 minutes remaining. USA goalkeeper Barry Merriman (Washington, D.C.) came up with the big save.
After the break, USA had a close chance after Kaeppeler intercepted off the right boards and drove forward, pushed it on goal toward Alex Grassi (Brookeville, Md.) but Namibia's goalkeeper Richter van Rooyen made the stop. On the resuming play, Namibia added to their lead when quick two-touch passing led to an open goal for Hermanus. End-to-end chances came for both teams that saw Harris almost cut the margin. In the 26th minute, in and out passing led to Fagan Hansen making it 1-4 for Namibia. Merriman closed the frame with back-to-back crucial saves.
A minute into the final quarter, Lasse Nobereit (Koenigstein, Germany) scored for USA. It started when a deep ball got ahead to Grassi who used the boards for a give and go with Christian DeAngelis (Doylestown, Pa.) on the right baseline. Grassi's shot was touched by a defender but Nobereit put it into the net to make it 2-4. With 2.5 minutes to go, Namibia earned a penalty corner but it was a minute after that where John Paul Britz finished high to bring it to 2-5. USA didn't fret and just 23 seconds later Harris added one back. Although trailing by two goals, the Wolves continued to counter but fell 3-5.
Today, both Nobereit and Weitzman played in their first international cap for Team USA.
"I’d like to congratulate Jack Weitzman and Lasse Nobereit on their first cap," added Mulder. "Barry Merriman also was awarded the Goalkeeper of the Game making some key saves."
The Indoor USMNT will take on hosts, South Africa, tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. ET.
For more information on the 2023 Nkosi Cup, visit the event page.