Rosters for both teams were announced today for this weekend’s US National Arena Soccer Team double dip against the Mexican National Futbol Rapido Team.
From the 18 US players announced today, 15 are expected to dress each night. Things kick off Friday at the Citizen’s Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California and conclude Saturday when arena soccer makes an overdue return to Stockton Arena.
Six players from the USNAST’s 2017 WMF World Cup roster will suit up this weekend: Boris Pardo, Israel Sesay, Corey Maret, Andy Reyes, Marcus Jordan, and Matt Germain. Mexico Head Coach Rene Ortiz will only have two players – Werner Resendes and Erick Tovar – from their runner-up finish in Tunisia.
After this weekend, the the US and Mexico programs will switch gears from arena soccer to minifootball for the first ever Pan American Cup, June 7-12 in Guatemala City. The tournament is a qualifier for the 2019 WMF World Cup.
“We are looking at these games as important tune ups for our team, not only for the tournament in Guatemala, but for the Arena Soccer World Cup coming to Mexico this October,” said Bernie Lilavois, general manager of the American Association of Soccer 5-6-7. “We need to have our team working together, as we expect fierce competition in Guatemala to qualify for a return to the WMF World Cup next year.”
Lilavois will pay special attention to M2 MVP Thomas Hoang, who will be making his USNAST debut. The Colorado Inferno forward led M2 in scoring this season and should be of interest to MASL teams this coming season.
Friday’s game will double as a fundraiser for former US Men’s National Team and Los Angeles Lazers defender Cle Kooiman. Kooiman, a Southern California native, is suffering from an aggressive form of prostate cancer, and the effects of surgery to remove his prostate. A portion of the proceeds from the Ontario game will go toward his medical fund.
Saturday’s game will be a reunion of sorts of the Stockton/California Cougars, who played in the MISL and PASL for six years before moving to Turlock in 2011. Lilavois and US players Brian Farber, Nelson Santana, and Uriel Robledo played on the Cougars 2009 PASL North American Champion team. Mexico defender Eduardo Velez and US Assistant Coach Enrique Tovar are also former Cougars.