Foreword and interview by Greg Ponto Suttie/Roster synopsis below by Sydney Nusinov

To begin the MASL off season I have shifted gears a bit and met with the General Manager of the American Association of Soccer 5-6-7 Bernie Lilavois. Many of us know Bernie from his long playing career and his coaching the California Cougars, Anaheim Bolts, and Ontario Fury. For the last five years, Lilavois has served as President (“and General Manager and Equipment Manager and everything else”) of the Fury.

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We turned the clock back to the beginning of the US National Arena Soccer Team and also talked about the 2015 and 2017 World Cup tournaments. We then discussed the Pan American Memorial Cup which starts this Thursday in Guatemala City and this October’s upcoming Arena Soccer World Championship in Mexico.

My hope is that Bernie and I were able to help the viewers to better understand the hierarchy and structure of international minifootball under the World Minifootball Federation umbrella.

Given the chaotic and tragic week caused by the eruption of the Fuego volcano near Guatemala City, the US Minifootball Team had to scramble to finalize a roster. The volcano is still active and there is a possibility that the airport could close again making getting in and getting back home on time anything but a done deal.

In the wake of the tragedy, the tournament only got the green light, to be played as originally scheduled, on Monday night. It wasn’t until today that coach Bernie Lilavois could confirm a final US roster.

Lilavois, himself, made the final truncated 10-man roster as a contingency, though he doesn’t expect to play.

The remaining nine players had all been featured recently and five of the players also played in the 2017 WMF World Cup in Tunisia. The only Tunisia holdovers from the 2015 WMF Arena Soccer World Cup, Gordy Gurson and Matt Clare, are absent from the Guatemala lineup. The five returning players are goalkeeper Boris Pardo, defender Matt Germain, and midfielders Israel Sesay, Andy Reyes, and Marcus Jordan.

They will be joined by defenders Juan Gonzalez and Nelson Santana, and midfielder Anibal Echeverria.

Capping off the roster is another Colorado-made Cinderella story, similar to last year when Casey Gasson and Jordan were plucked from open tryouts and kept earning a spot game after game. Forward Thomas Hoang was recently called up from his Colorado Inferno M2 team to represent the US in two exhibition games, and parlayed that performance into a spot on the Pan American squad. Hoang scored in each of last weekend’s two games against Mexico.

This week’s Pan American Memorial Cup is a qualifying tournament for the 2019 WMF World Cup. Like the 2017 World Cup in Tunisia, this event and the 2019 World Cup will be played without boards.

Later this year in October the 2018 WMF Arena Soccer World Championship will be held in Hermosillo, Mexico. This will be arena soccer with boards.

The WMF will hold a World Cup, without boards every odd year and an Arena Soccer World Championship every even year.

The US will arrive tonight and get right to work with a game tomorrow against tournament host Guatemala. After a day off, the US will end group play with a game against Colombia on Saturday. After the first round, only the 9th place team will be eliminated the rest of the teams will be seeded into the quarterfinals.

The tournament is expected to be aired live on Eleven Sports, which can be found on channel 623 on DirectTv. Tomorrow’s directory shows all three of Thursday’s tournament games, starting at 6:00pm EDT.

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