The USA 6 National Team dropped a 6-2 decision to the Brazilian National Minifootball Team on Sunday at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota.
The Corn Palace Cup was the first game for the USA 6 team since Craig Rhodis replaced AAS567 GM Bernie Lilavois as the team’s Head Coach.
Minifootball is a six-a-side game that is typically played on turf, but with no boards. Sunday’s game, however, was played on a basketball court surface often associated with futsal. Despite a blizzard ripping through South Dakota, the game drew an impressive crowd of 1,206 to the unusual venue.
Brazil had the edge in experience with Sanaldo minding the nets and Pablo Da Silva, Ricardo Carvalho, Elmo Neto, and former Fluminense star and capped Brazilian National Team player Gabriel Gubela dotting the roster. The much younger USA side was punctuated by players from the Turlock Express, as well as M2 and PASL players, including four players from Rhodis’s Cincinnati Swerve.
The futsal experience of the Brazilian team allowed them to adjust to the playing surface faster than the US team could. “It took us 15 minutes to adjust, then we were really good,” said Rhodis. “But by then we were down 4-0. Brazil’s team has been playing together for a while, and were certainly more ready than we were.”
Rhodis, who had previously coached the US National Arena Soccer Team and just led his Swerve team to a PASL National Championship, will be charged with guiding a team of primarily arena soccer players into a force in minifootball, where the US struggled in the 2017 WMF World Cup in Tunisia and a more recent tournament in Guatemala.
“I don’t think the tactics change a ton,” Rhodis says. “It’s still 6v6, with a lot of futsal and arena thought process. I have always designed the tactics and style based upon the team I have and who we are playing. I think the thing that is different with this is the skill set required from the players. They have to be able to play without walls. That will be my focus over the next few months, to find the players that are suited to minifootball.”
The US has already qualified for the 2019 WMF World Cup, which will take place in Australia this October.