The US National Arena Soccer Team, following an exhaustive search, 12 international exhibitions in eight states, and numerous open tryouts, has announced its final roster for the 2017 WMF World Cup in Nabeul, Tunisia.
The 15 players who earned the right to represent the USA include 13 MASL players and two PASL players. USNAST General Manager and Head Coach Bernie Lilavois named former Detroit Waza Flo player Mario Scicluna as Assistant Coach and Las Vegas Legends coach Meir Cohen as Director of Soccer Operations.
Boris Pardo and Casey Gasson will man the nets. Pardo is a former MLS goalkeeper who settled into the indoor game with the Missouri Comets, Wichita B-52s, and San Diego Sockers. Gasson is a walk-on who got a chance at an open tryout in Ontario in August and made the most of it at every opportunity. Gasson was the winning goalkeeper in Saturday’s 8-5 win over Mexico in Denver.
Defensively, the US will have MASL Defender of the Year Stephen Basso of the Harrisburg Heat, as well as Corey Maret (Ontario Fury), Uzi Tayou (Soles de Sonora), and Joshio Sandoval (Cedar Rapids Rampage).
The midfield will consist of Matt Germain (Turlock Express), Andy Reyes and Israel Sesay (Ontario), and Marcus Jordan, who traveled with Gasson from Colorado, where they both played for the PASL’s Colorado Blizzard, for that August combine in Ontario, and garnered a spot on the team.
“Gasson and Jordan are our Cinderella story,” said Lilavois. “They have handled everything we’ve thrown at them and I think they are ready.”
Four of the MASL’s top 10 goal scorers are represented, including two-time reigning Most Valuable Player Franck Tayou (Sonora). He will be joined by Taylor Bond and Gordy Gurson (Cedar Rapids), Joey Tavernese (Syracuse Silver Knights), and Matt Clare (San Diego).
“We considered so many factors and looked at so many players this summer and we feel the team we assembled has the best talent, combined with winning attitude, and heart to represent the USNAST in the best manner possible,” Lilavois said.
After playing arena soccer all summer, the US will have to transition to the smaller field and lack of boards that characterizes minifootball. The US will open the 24-nation tournament in Group D with Spain, Senegal and India. The Cup begins on October 6 with Tunisia hosting Portugal. The US plays Spain on October 7, Senegal on October 9, and India on October 10. The top two teams in each of the six groups will advance to the Round of 16, as well as the top four at large teams remaining.
The US won the first WMF World Cup in 2015 while the tournament was played here under arena soccer rules. The WMF has since created separate events for minifootball and arena soccer. The next arena soccer World Cup is set to take place in 2018 in a city to be announced in the near future. Only two players, Gurson and Clare, remain from the 2015 title squad.