Costa Rica defeats Cuba to capture the CONCACAF Futsal Championship
Goals from Diego Solis and Juan Valverde and a stellar defensive effort gave host Costa Rica a 2:0 victory against Cuba and the CONCACAF Futsal Championship.
Solis’ goal was his sixth of the tournament, Costa Rica’s team high, and he was named tournament Most Valuable Player.
The finalists had won the real prize of the tournament two nights earlier – both earning berths in the FIFA World Futsal Championship – but there was still the matter of a first Confederation title for either. The USA won the first CONCACAF Futsal Championship in 1996.
Cuba entered the match with only nine players, three having reportedly defected during the tournament, all key performers. But they started the stronger of the two teams, able to maintain quality possession while trying to conserve as much energy as possible.
Yet a dreadful giveaway in their own end led to the first goal, Diego Solis winning the ball on the right flank and dribbling in, hammering a drive over Cuba goalkeeper Pedro Lopez from seven meters. Then, just before the half, a wicked strike from Juan Valverde put the home side up 2:0. Receiving a corner kick some 20 meters out from goal, he ripped a wicked blast over Lopez’ shoulder inside the upper left corner.
Cuba had a tremendous chance to pull a goal back in the 27th minute, but Juan Portal hit the post though all alone in front of goal. Solis then nearly cemented his stamp on the final, put through clean on a pair of occasions, only to see Lopez acrobatically poke his efforts away.
Cuba had a final chance less than two minutes from time, Adalberto Guerra in alone at the end of a lightning-quick counter, but his shot was well off the mark and with it Cuba’s hopes for a dramatic title.
The USA spotted Mexico an early goal, then raced away 5:1 winners to capture third place. Brian Loftin scored three goals – the last two in the final two minutes, both on double penalties after Mexico had accumulated five fouls in the half – in a scrappy affair that eventually saw three players shown red cards.
The USA had the better of the early exchanges, but it was Mexico’s Jesus Torres who scored the first goal, ripping an angled shot on the run high inside Orf’s right post. But Brian Loftin equalized midway through the period, finishing off a perfectly-placed corner kick from close range, then Lee Tschantret sent the USA into the lockerroom a goal to the good after Matt Tirschmann’s pass from the corner found him behind the defender deep in the penalty arc.
Jeff Davis put the USA up 3:1 early in the second half, finishing off a 3-on-1 counterattack. Loftin then struck twice on double penalties for the final scoreline.