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USMNT Off to Strong Start at Pan American Games with Win Over Trinidad & Tobago

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SANTIAGO, Chile – To open their Pan American Games Santiago 2023 journey, the No. 23 U.S. Men’s National Team faced a persistent No. 41 Trinidad and Tobago. After taking a 2-0 lead after the first quarter, the Wolves added four more in the second half for a commanding 6-1 victory.

“It was a good start today with a couple of great goals,” said Harry Singh, USMNT Head Coach. “At times we gave Trinidad too much space to exploit our territory. We need to clean up that aspect and maintain our game plan because each goal matters at the end of pool play. I am happy we came away with three points – which is very important.”

USA wasted no time to open the scoring, tallying in just the 2nd minute of play. Jack Heldens (Hamburg, Germany) intercepted the ball just past the midway line and drove into the circle to earn a penalty corner. Off the chance, Aki Kaeppeler (New York City, N.Y.) converted on a drag to put the Wolves ahead 1-0. Control went back-and-forth for a period before Trinidad and Tobago earned a sequence of penalty corners starting in the 10th minute. Unable to get a clean shot off on any attempt, USA worked it into their attacking end and Heldens drove the left baseline, passed it back and Kai Kokolakis (Melbourne, Fla.) earned a set piece. Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) scored to make it 2-0, off a shot that tipped off a defender into the goal.

Trinidad had the front foot in the second frame, putting USA’s defense under a lot of pressure. They held the advantage in shots and circle penetrations, but the Wolves’ defensive unit kept the clean sheet. A close chance came in the 19th minute when a Trinidad athlete found himself in a 1v1 situation in front of goal. USA goalkeeper Jonathan Klages (Berlin, Germany) came up big with the stop and stick clear, but the opponents earned a penalty corner on the resuming play. Trinidad were unable to convert and with 2 minutes remaining, USA extended their lead to 3-0. Heldens picked off a defender at the top of the circle, worked it ahead and put it past goalkeeper Andrey Rocke.

In the opening minutes of the third quarter, Trinidad penetrated and tested Klages. USA responded with a chance when Kei Kaeppeler (Stuttgart, Germany) used speed to get into the circle and rip a forehand shot that was saved. Heldens followed with an upright reverse that was met by Rocke. In the 43rd minute, Harris set up a great goal after driving the baseline and dumping it back to Kokolakis, who finished into the net. The Wolves closed the quarter leading 4-0.

The start of the final frame was stagnant for a bit before USA earned a penalty corner 3 minutes in. Unsuccessful, the red, white and blue kept knocking and in the 50th minute Rocke tried to intercept a pass, but Marius Leser (Mannheim, Germany) was there to touch it in and make it 5-0. Just a minute later the Wolves tallied again when Finlay Quaile (Castle Cary, Great Britain) added his name to the scoresheet with a penalty corner drag. Trinidad remained persistent and with 5 minutes left in the game, Teague Marcano added one back off a penalty corner after pulling around the flyer and flicking it into the net.

“We needed a good start because we haven’t played together in 1.5 to 2 months so, it was important we all got together and had a good game and get the rhythm going again,” said Klages, after the win. “I do everything for the team and they do it for me. They score goals and I tried to keep them out of the goal.”

Today’s contest marked a career milestone for Stuart Kentwell (Spring City, Pa.) who played in his first international cap for Team USA.

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The USA men will return to the pitch Friday, October 27 when they face No. 17 Canada in their second pool game at 10:30 a.m. ET.

 For more information regarding the 2023 Pan American Games, visit the event page


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