It’s been a long offseason for the US National Arena Soccer Team, but the end of the Major Arena Soccer League season marks the unofficial start of the international exhibition season. The US will get things cranked up this Saturday when they host the Guatemalan Minifootball Team at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield, California.
When we last saw the USNAST (technically it was not the arena team since it was an outdoor six-a-side event), they were losing to Mexico in the 2017 WMF World Cup in Tunisia.
Since then, the international hierarchy got bigger and more sophisticated. The US team is now operated by the American Association of Soccer 5-6-7, which is the national association to the Pan American Minifootball Federation, which is the North and South American continental federation to the World Minifootball Federation.
USASoccer567 (national)—>PAMF (continental)—>WMF (world)
Technical changes aside, the USNAST roster for this Saturday’s game is very familiar. Of the 13 players the team has announced this week, eight of them played in the WMF World Cup and 11 of the 13 have donned the USA jersey before.
The newcomers are UPSL goalkeeper Brent Reis, who plays for Ontario Fury II and will play with the Fury when they host Guatemala Friday in Ontario, and 22-year old Manny Villegas of the Turlock Express.
Rejoining the team after missing the WMF World Cup are Brian Farber (San Diego Sockers), Nelson Santana (Baltimore Blast), and Adrian Pulido (Turlock Express).
The holdovers include goalkeeper Boris Pardo and forward Matt Clare (San Diego Sockers); Israel Sesay, Corey Maret, and Marcus Jordan (Ontario Fury); Matt Germain (Turlock Express), and Franck and Uzi Tayou (Sonora Soles).
Santana is coming off a championship with the Blast, and Franck Tayou won his third straight MASL Most Valuable Player Award. USNAST fixture Gordy Gurson, who never seems to miss a game, is away playing overseas in Australia this spring.
After Saturday’s game the USNAST will face Canada on May 5 and 6 in Muskegon, Michigan and Mississauga (Toronto), Canada, respectively. More games will be announced at a future date.
Bernie Lilavois, General Manager of the national team program, will step in for Phil Salvagio, who is the coach of the arena team, but will miss Saturday’s game with a prior commitment. Lilavois is also the coach of the minifootball team and will lead the team into the Pan American Cup this May in Guatemala City.