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Team USA defeats Ireland to finish seventh in 7-a-side football in sport’s final appearance at Paralympic Games

clip art of football Image credit: flomar. License. Public domain

With 7-a-side football not on the program for the 2020 Summer Paralympics, the United States pulled out a surprise victory against Ireland earlier today to finish in seventh place in what could be the sport’s final appearance at the Paralympic Games.  The United States won 1 – 2 thanks to a goal by Seth Jahn in the 13th minute and another by Drew Bremer in the 53rd. Ireland’s only goal was scored by Dillon Sheridan in the 31st minute.

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Ireland kicked off the ball. Then early in the match, the Irish side managed to get a few early corner kicks after a number of quick changes of possessions by both teams who swiftly moved the ball up and down the field.  Once the Irish got the ball in those early minutes, the Americans were not able to clear it out of the box in general.  Three quick corners for the Irish side left the Americans scrambling as the only way to keep the ball away from the net was for them to kick it out and give the opposition a corner   A missed shot on goal by the Irish side allowed American goalkeeper Sean Boyle to take a goal kick, clearing the ball up the field.  The Americans continued to move the ball down field and were rewarded with a good shot on goal, which the Irish keeper Brian McGillivary bobbled, but there was no Team USA player there to capitalize on the error.  The USA got a free kick on the Irish end.  Kevin Hensley took the kick, got it past the wall, and narrowly missed getting a goal after a diving sideway leap by the Irish goalie.   The USA got a pair of shots in seventh minute, including one off the Irish goalkeeper’s face that sent him to the ground and required medical looking at his nose.  Despite the blow, McGillivary stayed in the game.  The early back and forth had shifted by the eighth minute and the USA had better edge, intercepting more Irish passes.  The Americans though sometimes had problems connecting their own passes in the Irish end. Ireland had a good opportunity in the eleventh minute but missed being n goal.  The largely Brazilian expressed disappointment at the Irish for not converting the goal.

Ireland kicked off the ball. Then early in the match, the Irish side managed to get a few early corner kicks after a number of quick changes of possessions by both teams who swiftly moved the ball up and down the field.  Once the Irish got the ball in those early minutes, the Americans were not able to clear it out of the box in general.  Three quick corners for the Irish side left the Americans scrambling as the only way to keep the ball away from the net was for them to kick it out and give the opposition a corner   A missed shot on goal by the Irish side allowed American goalkeeper Sean Boyle to take a goal kick, clearing the ball up the field.  The Americans continued to move the ball down field and were rewarded with a good shot on goal, which the Irish keeper Brian McGillivary bobbled, but there was no Team USA player there to capitalize on the error.  The USA got a free kick on the Irish end.  Kevin Hensley took the kick, got it past the wall, and narrowly missed getting a goal after a diving sideway leap by the Irish goalie.   The USA got a pair of shots in seventh minute, including one off the Irish goalkeeper’s face that sent him to the ground and required medical looking at his nose.  Despite the blow, McGillivary stayed in the game.  The early back and forth had shifted by the eighth minute and the USA had better edge, intercepting more Irish passes.  The Americans though sometimes had problems connecting their own passes in the Irish end. Ireland had a good opportunity in the eleventh minute but missed being n goal.  The largely Brazilian expressed disappointment at the Irish for not converting the goal.

 

At the thirteen-minute mark, Seth Jahn scored for the United States.    This put the USA ahead.  Then at 13:52, an American player took a shot from a bit out but it was too high. Because of the heat, a one-minute break for water and rest was taken at the sixteen-minute mark.  At that point the, Irish appeared to have a bit more momentum though unable to get the ball into the goal front.  A missed header by American captain Hensley around the 18:30 could have put the United States up by two but Hensley just could not connect.  Possession changed short with Ireland’s Sheridan getting a free kick from midfield went wide and the Boyle did not make any effort stop it.

Around the twenty-minute mark, Ireland had lots of control of the ball, keeping in it in the USA half but not in the box. The Irish managed a shot but United States cleared behind for an Irish corner.  Then Ireland had another opportunity which they missed again.  The United States got control, cleared the ball up the field and then turned it back over to Ireland after touching the ball before it went out of bounds.  Moment shifted again around the twenty-three-minute mark with Americans having control for a bit before losing it on a shot that went high.  Ireland then faced a huge man on man challenge all the way into the USA box repeatedly being challenged by an American player after American player.  The Irish kept control of the ball.  Then they managed to put up a shot, which the United States deflected and Ireland got a corner kick.  The Irish were unable to convert it for a goal.  The Americans got the ball and took a shot from far outside in the extra time.  Fans were unhappy with USA play, booing what they thought was dirty play.

At the 27:17-minute mark, Ireland had a good shot on goal that the Boyle had to stop.  He had issues with the stop, and lack of Irish players to take advantage of play prevented an Irish goal. Brazilian fans booed following the play.  American fans answered back by chanting U-S-A, U-S-A.  The Irish got possession back in their own half, rushed the ball down the field.  The United States managed to stop the charge, then charged the ball down the field in turn.  An Irish player did a little push of an American player, but the American managed to deflect the ball off the player and grab a throw in  for the Americans in the waning moments of the first half.

Two-minutes were added of extra time.  The United States sent the ball high into the Irish box several times in these minutes looking to get a goal off a header.  The missed connections meant the score remained the same.  A misplay by American goalkeeper Boyle in extra time almost gave the Irish a goal, but Ireland’s Gary Messet missed his shot.

Starting the second half, local fans were clearly on the side of the Irish team.  The United States had the ball at kick off, but quickly turned it over to the Irish.  Ireland’s Dillon Sheridan took advantage of the possession to score in the first 30 seconds of the half to even up the score.  Irish dominance remained for the next few minutes.  Play got increasingly physical on both sides, but especially on the American side.

After about three-minutes into the second half, the United States got possession back, and American fans started chanting in support of their team.  Ireland then quickly regained possession, moved the ball back into the United States end, got a shot off and then kept control after the shot missed.  An Irish player fellow to the ground in play on the ball outside the box.  Ireland got a free kick, which the United States wall stopped the ball but Ireland got rebound off the wall and retained possession.

A bit later, Irish captain Luke Evans and American Hensley got into a tussle on the ground at the ball, with the United States getting the ball back following that at the 35:40 mark.  They then turned the ball over again, and Ireland moved the ball back into the American end.  Team USA assertiveness changed, with players going for the ball with slide tackles.  They finally got the ball back around the thirty-six-minute mark, and kept it for a bit as they slowly moved the ball up the field only to dump it at the goal face where they almost lost possession.   Ireland had difficulty clearing until a missed shot by an American player gave it back to them at the 37:20-minute mark.

The Irish then repeated the previous American efforts of slowly moving the ball up the field to the other team’s end only to lose it following a shot that Boyle was able to grab for the Americans.  Team USA then quickly moved the ball up field, only to kick it out and give the Irish a goal kick.

Clear marking and zone play started to disappear for both teams.  The United States then dominated in the next few minutes.  The Irish got the ball, took a shot which American goalkeeper Boyle stopped.  The United States got the ball, and then lost it when Hensley got called for shirt pulling. A few seconds later at the 40:10 mark, the United States got the ball back by intercepting an Irish pass.  The American strategy appeared to be  to dump the ball in the Irish end as often as possible and hope they could convert on a header.  This strategy often resulted in a change of possession.  At the 41:00-minute mark, the Irish again had the ball, tried to force a corner but were unsuccessful.  The fans booed the decision to reward the United States a goal kick.

At the 42:48-minute mark, Ireland used a sub with  Ireland had a sub, with Tomiwa Badnut coming on and Sheridan going off.  Sheridan off and number 11 on.  Badnut’s size gave the Irish a big advantage as he was bigger than most of the players on the American side. At the 43:40-minute mark, the United States dumped the ball in the Irish half and gave possession to the Irish side.  The Americans got possession back with a corner kick at the 43:40-minute mark.  American Tyler Bennett was unlucky not to get an assist with Drew Bremer getting the goal on the play off a well-placed pass for a header in the box.

Team USA missed a close attempt on goal at the 51:30-minute mark.  Ireland got possession back.  Then at the 52:01-minute mark, the United States made a substitution with number 2 Gavin Sibayan coming on for in for number 4, Tyler Bennett.  Ireland then got the ball into the USA goal face with the Badnut just controlling the area for Ireland with his physicality.  The United States did a dump after getting the ball, with Ireland getting the ball back. Badnut made his size again felt with a nice shot on goal that Boyle managed to stop.

 

Another one-minute water-break took place at the 45:00-minute mark.  The United States came back with possession of the ball, moved it into the Irish half, then moved it back to their own half to better set-up their play.  The Americans then dumped the ball again, with the Irish coming back with the ball on a goal kick. Possession change control a few times after that before the Irish controlled the ball for a bit. At the 49:30-minute mark, Ireland had good shot on goal that had the Brazilian fans ooohing.  It resulted in turning the ball back over to the Americans.  Possession then changed rapidly for a bit.

 

Quick possession change occurred with Ireland getting the ball.  The Irish side got a corner kick.  The player was unlucky as if the ball had curled just a bit, it would have gone in. Out of seemingly know where, at the 55:42-minute mark, from in the midfield, Andrew Bremer shot and scored for the United States at a distance that the Irish keeper did not see the ball coming at him.

At around the 56:30 mark, Jahn appeared injured with an even more pronounced limp.  He tried to shake it off in the Irish half while Ireland retained possession in the American half.

Shortly after, Gary Messett got a good shot for Ireland, which the United States goalkeeper stopped after a small bobble.  The United States got the ball, only to turn it over in the midfield.  Badun collided with an American player that resulted in a free kick for Ireland.  American players could not get positioned correctly, with Boyle shouting swear words at his teammates so loudly that they could be heard in the press tribunes.

The United States stopped the free kick, and got possession of the ball.  Ballou almost got a shot off but the Irish keeper came far out of the box and collided with Ballou, with Ireland then getting possession of the ball.

At that point, with about a minute left, possession changed several times in the midfield.  Regular time ended, and four-minutes of stoppage time was added.  Most of this as killed by a series of corner kicks by the Americans on the Irish half, with the Americans slowing down play as much as possible to run the cloud out.  Following another corner kick, the Irish keeper bobbled the ball and end of play was called with the USA coming away victorious 1 – 2.

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Laura Hale
About Laura Hale (2521 Articles)
Laura Hale is a sport journalist, specializing in Paralympic and disability sport news. Prior to helping found ParaSport-News, she spent two and a half years working as a journalist on Wikinews, a citizen journalism site. As a journalist, she has covered the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, the 2013 IPC Alpine Skiing World Championships in La Molina, the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, and a number of other sporting events. She has additional experience with Paralympic sport having worked as a Wikipedian in Residence for the Australian and Spanish Paralympic Committees.

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