The US entered the 2009 Homeless World Cup ranked 32nd in the world and, after finishing 29th in the 2008 Homeless World Cup in Melbourne, the team was looking to impress this year in Milan.
The first three days of the tournament were dedicated to preliminary pool play. The US was in Group C along with Brazil, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, and Kyrgyzstan. The team’s first game was a very close goal-fest against Denmark which the US won 8-7. Day two’s games provided larger goal differentials with the US soundly beating Hong Kong 10-1 and then losing to Brazil 6-2 later in the day. The last day of the preliminary pool provided with two more close games, but with lower goal totals when the US lost to underdog Kyrgyzstan in PK’s after tying 3-3, and defeated France 3-2 to finish off the round.
Finishing 3rd in their pool placed the US in Group A for the secondary group stage with Nigeria, Mexico, Greece, Chile, and newcomers Costa Rica. With a similar schedule to the preliminary pool play, the first day held only one game where the Americans lost to Chile 9-3. The second day did not improve much with more losses, 6-3 to Nigeria and 6-4 against Costa Rica. The Americans’ luck turned briefly on the third day when the team was able to beat Greece 4-3, but then went on to lose to Mexico 7-1.
These results sent the Americans into the City Cup playoffs for teams ranked 17th to 24th. Although they were already guaranteed to finish better than last year, the US still wanted to come back with some hardware. In the quarterfinals the US faced Austria and won in a PK shootout after a 5-5 tie. The team’s cup dream was denied in the semifinals by losing to a strong South African team 9-3. After a 3-3 tie with Hungary in the US’s final game, the team won in their third penalty shootout of the tournament.
Finishing third in the City Cup placed the US 19th in the 48-team tournament. Though the team did not win the whole tournament, finishing 13 places above their initial ranking made the tournament a great success.
On a local note, Minnesota’s own Mazamba soccer apparel donated team uniforms to all the Homeless World Cup teams. Mazamba is known for its philanthropic partnerships with worthy soccer causes. Mazamba = social change + passion for sports. Please check them out.