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Team USA Advances at 2022 Amputee Soccer World Cup in Turkey

Musa Nzirimwo, whose goal gave Team USA a 1-0 win over England, evades an English defender. (credit: Carl Calabria)

ISTANBUL, TURKEY, October 4, 2022 / -- Team USA is advancing to the knockout rounds at the Amputee Soccer World Cup after notching two victories, including a 1-0 statement win over England, during the group stage this past weekend.

With 16 teams remaining in the World Cup field, the U.S. will take on Haiti in a single-elimination match at 4 p.m. local time (9 a.m. EDT) on Wednesday, Oct. 5. Haiti advanced from its own group with a 2-0-1 record, drawing only against host Turkey. The U.S. and Haitian sides know each other well, having faced off in March at a North/Central American regional qualifying event and in a friendly match in Miami this summer. The winner of USA-Haiti will move on to the round of eight of the 24-team World Cup, in Istanbul.

The Americans kicked off their World Cup on Saturday with a victory over England, which was considered a very strong side after reaching the final of the 2017 European Amputee Football Championship. Musabwa Nzirimwo (Syracuse, N.Y.) scored the winner in the second half, slicing through the English defense and slotting home a perfectly weighted pass from U.S. captain Nicolai Calabria (Concord, Mass.). Travis Oliva (Fort Worth, Tex.) made 12 saves in goal for Team USA to secure the victory.

On Sunday, the U.S. fell 3-1 to a very strong Argentina side that topped Group C after winning all three of its games. But the Americans responded with a decisive win over Indonesia, 5-0, on Monday behind a hat trick from Calabria. Carlos Ayala (Amityville, N.Y.) also scored for Team USA, which benefitted from an own goal, as well. With the result, the U.S. secured second place in Group C and qualified for the knockout rounds.

Head coach Dr. Eric Lamberg, an associate dean in the School of Health Professions at Stony Brook University and president of the American Amputee Soccer Association, said: “This team believes in themselves and have trained to be in this position. The entire squad is prepared and ready to take on Haiti. We are proud to represent the U.S. during this World Cup.”

Team USA brought 15 players and 11 staff members, representing 10 states, to the World Cup. The Americans also enjoy some high-profile support from outside the squad: Los Angeles F.C. midfielder Kellyn Acosta, a regular for the U.S. men’s national team and hopeful for the World Cup this November, was named an ambassador for the amputee team this summer.

Codified in 1980 by Seattle native Don Bennett, amputee soccer is played on a ¾-size pitch with seven players to a side. Field players use forearm crutches and may play the ball with only one leg. Goalkeepers defend a 7’x16’ net and may use only one arm.

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Eric Lamberg
American Amputee Soccer Association
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