The U.S. Beach Soccer National Team qualified for the 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup after rallying past Costa Rica 4-2 in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship at the Malcolm Park Beach Soccer and Futsal Facility.
The USA advanced to Sunday’s CONCACAF final against El Salvador, which advanced past Mexico 1-0 in sudden-death penalties after playing to a 3-3 draw in regulation and extra time. Both teams will represent CONCACAF at the World Cup, which takes place Sept. 18-28 To’ata Stadium in Papeete, Tahiti.
This marks the fourth time the U.S. has qualified for the Beach Soccer World Cup. The USA also advanced to the 2005, 2006 and 2007 tournaments.
The U.S. overcame a 2-0 deficit by scoring four straight goals against Costa Rica. Nick Perera had a goal and was the leading scorer of the tournament with nine tallies, while Francis Farberoff, Lewie Valentine and Anthony Chimienti added goals for the U.S.
USA goalkeeper Chris Toth came up huge down the stretch, stopping all four of Costa Rica’s shots on frame during the final three minutes, including a free kick save near the penalty spot with 1:40 remaining. Toth had nine saves total.
Costa Rica had the upper hand in the early going, scoring goals in the second and 12th minutes to take a 2-0 lead late in the first period. But with 34 seconds remaining in the period, Perera came through for the U.S. with a right-footed redirect off of a throw-in. His flick found the inside of the far right post to cut Costa Rica’s lead to 2-1 heading into the second period.
One of the most creative goals of the match came from Farberoff, who juggled the ball several times to elude a Costa Rica defender in the midfield, then launched a long-distance shot to the left corner of the frame to tie the score at 2-2 in the 15th minute of the match and the third minute of the second period.
Valentine gave the U.S. its first lead at 3-2 with a right-footed volley in the 16th minute (fourth minute of the second period). The USA crossed the ball in from the left side and Valentine’s low shot bounced once in the sand and skipped into the goal.
Chimienti scored what would prove to be the game-winning goal with 6:51 remaining in the second period, a right-footed volley from the near right post that he shot across to the left side of the goal for a 4-2 lead.
Costa Rica cut the U.S. lead to 4-3 with 7:30 remaining in the third period, but Toth and the USA defense held tight the rest of the way to earn a World Cup trip to Tahiti.
Sunday’s final in the CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship between the U.S. and El Salvador kicks off at 5 p.m. ET. The third-place game between Costa Rica and Mexico starts at 3:45 p.m. ET.