Returning for their third consecutive world finals in the discipline, the USA's physically powerful and technically gifted beach boys will be a team to keep an eye on during the 2007 finals in November on Copacabana Beach. The talented trio of captain Francis Farberoff, Zak Ibsen and Anthony Chimienti will all return to Rio with the experience of the 2006 finals fresh in the memory.
And with new goal king Jevin Albuquerque looking ready to light up the '07 beach finals, Roberto Ceciliano's men - who recently beat South American champs Uruguay to be named de facto kings of the Americas - will be raring to go as they are firmly established as CONCACAF giants in the sun and sand.
The Americans roared through the four-team qualifying section for North, Central America and the Caribbean in sun-soaked Acapulco in August of 2007. Goals from Brendon Taguinod and outstanding captain Farberoff led the way to an attack-happy 9-5 win over first-timers El Salvador in their first game. Next up, Costa Rica suffered on the wrong end of a 5-3 result in which tournament top scorer Jevin Albuquerque scored four goals.
That result put the USA through to Rio for the third straight time, but they didn't let complacency set in as they went on to beat big rivals Mexico in a 5-4 classic to be named 2007 CONCACAF Beach Soccer champions. They then went on to beat South American section winners and runners-up from Rio 2006, Uruguay, in a 'friendly' match between the winners of CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.
Born and raised in the beach soccer hotbed of Brazil to Italian parentage, Roberto Ceciliano took to the hyper-technical version of football played on the white-sand Brazilian beaches with real aplomb as a youngster. He lined up for the first official Brazilian beach soccer team in 1993 and has a genuine appreciation for the burgeoning sport.
"I grew up on the Rio beaches, he said. "To play this game, you have to be quick. You have to use a lot of imagination. You need a lot of quick touches because the ball can get stuck in the sand." Former coach of Brazilian side Flamilia, Ceciliano is one of the most knowledgeable and passionate figures in the game and the world finals in Rio will be his third consecutive as USA boss.
Francis Farberoff, like his coach, is also a native of Rio, but he moved to the States and now resides in the American beach soccer paradise of Miami, Florida (near to Fort Lauderdale where the US team trains together regularly). Renowned for his close control, mind-boggling juggling ability and ferocious strike of the ball, Farberoff - who is also a renowned 'foot-volley' practitioner - will be the leading light for the USA as they hunt glory down in his hometown of Rio.
He is heading into his third consecutive world beach finals as the USA's leading light, and his goals and all-around brilliance during the qualifiers played a big part in getting the side through to the Rio 2007. Alongside former MLS standout Zak Ibsen - who was named player of the tournament at the recent Acapulco qualifiers - the Americans should be teeming with talent and desire.
• The USA qualified for both previous Beach Soccer world finals. They went out in the group stages with zero points in 2005 but managed a win before going out early again last year.
What they said...
"I am 100 percent thrilled with the outcome of the qualifying tournament here in Acapulco. As of right now we are preparing for Rio 2007. Our first order of business will be to arrive very early in Brazil to be as well-adapted as we can be for the tournament." Head coach Roberto Ceciliano, after winning the CONCACAF qualifiers in August and beating South American champs Uruguay in a follow-up friendly.