The 2011 Paris Homeless World Cup finished eight days of competition Sunday. In the 9th annual competition, 64 teams from all over the world competed in a 48-team men’s tournament and a 16-team women’s tournament. The US has competed in every Homeless World Cup thus far and sent a men’s and women’s team to compete in this year’s tournament. At the 2010 Rio Homeless World Cup, the US men finished 20th out of 43 teams and the women finished 11th out of 12. After a year of preparation both teams were looking to improve.
The US men started off the first day of the tournament with a strong 6-3 win over Ghana, who was the top seed in the group. The US split their results the second day after winning a close game against Switzerland 4-3 and dropping their next game against the Philippines by the same score, despite scoring three goals to come back from a 4-0 deficit. To finish off the first round of the tournament the US beat Slovenia to make the winner of the team’s final match against the Netherlands the winner of the group. Unfortunately the US fell 6-3 to a Netherlands team that finished the group stage undefeated and held a +25 goal differential.
Finishing second in their group placed the US in a stronger group for the second stage of the tournament. The team had its best defensive showing of the tournament in their first game against South Africa, allowing only one goal. However the US could not get their offense going and would lose in PKs after tying 1-1. After the strong defensive showing the US was unable to match up against the physical play of Ireland and fell 7-2. In their third game of the stage, the US was leading Lithuania up until the last second when they gave up a goal to make it 6-6. Lithuania would go on to win in PKs after the US hit the post. The US finished off a disappointing second stage with a 7-0 loss to group winners Kenya and a 5-2 loss to regional rivals Mexico.
For the final stage of the tournament the US would be playing for 17th place in the City Cup bracket. In the quarterfinals the US faced Austria who entered the tournament ranked just above the Americans. The two teams played a close match with the US taking the result 5-4. In the semifinal the US continued their cup run with a 4-2 win over Italy. The US was first to score in the final of the City Cup, but Denmark dominated play and eventually won 9-5. Despite the loss the US improved on their performance last year.
The US women, who are also known as the Lady Salamanders, started their tournament with a game against India in a re-match of their final game of last year’s Homeless World Cup. This time around India was able to get the result despite a late US press to bring the score line to 2-1. The next two games for the Lady Salamanders were against some tough opponents and despite valiant efforts from the defense and goalkeepers the US went on to lose 7-0 to Argentina and 5-2 to Norway. In the next game the US was able to put the last few games behind them to earn a 4-2 win over Uganda. After their first win of the tournament, the US faced last year’s Women’s World Cup winners Brazil. The Brazilian team was just as strong this year and would eventually go on to win the group with a +76 goal differential after beating the US 14-0. The Lady Salamanders finished the first stage of the tournament with 7-2 loss to Malawi and a 4-2 loss to Canada.
After the group stage the US women were placed in the lower tier trophy stage to play for the Women’s Homeless World Cup Plate. The US lost to France in the quarterfinals which left the Lady Salamanders to play for pride and placement in their two remaining games. The next two games were rematches from the group stage of the tournament. The US started off with a heartbreaking loss to Canada in PKs after finishing 3-3. The Lady Salamanders were able to put the last game behind them to once again earn a 4-2 win over Uganda to finish in 15th plac