Indoor USMNT Defeated by Namibia in Rematch at Nkosi Cup
CAPE TOWN, South Africa – A rematch between the No. 8 U.S. Men's National Indoor Team and No. 13 Namibia ended with Namibia claiming a 6-2 win at the 2023 Nkosi Cup in Cape Town, South Africa.
“Another tough encounter with the Namibian squad.” said Jason Mulder, Indoor USMNT Head Coach. “Key errors in the first 8 minutes saw us having to fight our way back into the game. This performance was a great lesson in resetting and refocusing our objectives.
"I was impressed with our leadership group, Pat Harris and Aki Kaeppeler in this game. To inspire the younger players to continue to grind was great to see. We look forward to finishing our Nkosi cup campaign tomorrow vs. South Africa.”
Play started off with an even tempo until a connecting pass from Namibia found Liam Hermanus up the court, who sent a clinical lifted ball into the top left corner. The opening goal gave Namibia a 1-0 lead just three minutes in. It was just one minute later that Hermanus doubled Namibia’s lead – stealing a ball in the midfield and dribbling into the circle with another lifted shot. Now up 2-0, Namibia found their rhythm, staving off high pressure from the USA side. The red, white, and blue found themselves with a penalty corner opportunity off an error from the Namibia defense in the 6th minute, but we unable to capitalize. It was soon after that Namibia earned a set piece of their own and converted to take a 3-0 lead.
USA needed to settle and find some structure, and passing combinations between Koehl Comiskey (Dallas, Pa.), Aki Kaeppeler (New York City, N.Y.), and Alex Grassi (Brookeville, Md.) allowed them to do just that. The work paid off in the 10th minute when USA earned a penalty corner. This time, Kaeppeler buried the ball in the top of the goal to bring the score to 3-1 in favor of Namibia. Just moments after the restart, USA pushed up to win another penalty corner. A confident Kaeppeler tallied another for USA, this time with a fast shot on the ground. The score was 3-2, Namibia, after the first frame.
The second quarter started off much quieter in the circle for both teams, as play teetered up and down the pitch. Dean Schiller (Alexandria, Va.) almost found the equalizer for USA, pushing up to steal the ball and send it in, but was called back for a foul. Namibia had a good look minutes later, but a young Luke Jackson (Brentwood, Tenn.) stepped up in goal to make the save. After another USA goal – this time from Jack Weitzman (Fulton, Md.) – was disallowed, and the frustration began to sink in for USA as Weitzman was shown a green card. Namibia quickly took advantage of the man-up opportunity, taking a 4-2 lead, which they would hold onto heading into halftime.
It was a similar story in the third quarter, as despite USA’s efforts, Namibia was able to tally another emphatic goal. Shortly after, the Wolves escaped a Namibia penalty corner after a powerful shot bounced off the goalpost. USA was down 5-2 heading into the final frame. Desperate to get back in the game, USA began the fourth with offensive pressure. A stellar play from Kaeppeler in the backfield lead to Lasse Nobereit (Koenigstein, Germany) earning a penalty corner for USA. A retake of the set piece shot by Kaeppeler was blocked by Namibia’s goalkeeper. After Namibia went a player down with a yellow card, USA opted to pull the goalkeeper to gain a two-player advantage. The tactic did not pay off for USA, as Namibia was able to take advantage of an open goal opportunity to bring their lead up to 6-2.
Today's match marked a career milestone as Jackson recorded his first international cap.
Next up, the Indoor USMNT will rematch South Africa on Monday, December 18 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
For more information on the 2023 Nkosi Cup, visit the event page.