It was a thrilling conclusion to the three-day tournament for the 2017 Futsal Copa North America Championship from Woodling Gymnasium today on the campus of Cleveland State University. Ohio North Futsal brought the tournament in, and it did not disappoint as Safira Futsal defeated Toronto United by a score of 8-5 to take home the Silver Cup Trophy along with $3,000 in first prize money.
In a wild finish that saw several ejections, a player carted off by the EMS on a stretcher, and a near brawl, Safira Futsal was able to keep their composure just long enough to hang on for the victory. Safira scored three goals in the final three minutes and thirty-one seconds off of Toronto backup goalkeeper Kevin Valdes to secure the Silver Cup Trophy.
The tournament’s leading goal scorer Andre Carvalho had two goals late in the game and completed what was a remarkable run for him. Marcio Leite also played a big role in the victory with two first half goals.
As mentioned, it was a wild contest from the very start that kept fans and player’s hearts racing the entire game. Toronto drew first blood a little under three minutes into the contest when Marco Rodriguez connected from about five feet out. This would be the last time that Toronto would have a lead and it didn’t last long. That goal woke up Safira as they then went on a 4-0 scoring run of their own.
The scoring spree for Safira began when Pablo Silva connected at the four minute mark to even the score. Toronto would then miss a penalty kick which led to a breakaway goal from Marcio Leite to give Safira their first lead. Moments later it was Leite scoring again, this time on a corner kick.
Toronto kept bringing goalkeeper Josh Ramos out of goal to force the action, it would eventually come back to bite them as it led to Ramos picking up a yellow card from an ill-timed slide tackle. Seconds after that, Safira would score on an empty net goal on a shot placed perfectly by Robert Renaud with seven minutes and forty-five seconds to go in the first half.
This gave Safira what seemed to be an insurmountable lead at 4-1. Goalkeeper Rafael Dias was stopping anything coming his way. He defended an onslaught of Toronto United shots on goal, and with the exception of one, shut them down. It was at the seventeen-minute mark of the first half when everything changed however.
Dias had saved 15 of 16 shots when Toronto finally managed to slip another one by him on a perfectly timed put back by Jonathan Osario. The scrappy United forward was not happy enough with the goal as he began to taunt Dias, which led to the goalkeeper spitting on Osario. Both men then took swings at each other, which led to both being ejected.
Dias had been having an incredible game when this occurred, forcing Safira to bring in backup goalkeeper Alencar Junior. Toronto wasted no time taking advantage of the cold goalkeeper and scored two quick goals to start the second half by Ramos and Alex Pena to tie the game at 4-4.
The tie game lasted less than a minute as Andre Carvalho scored to put Safira back up. It wasn’t long after that when Toronto starting goalkeeper Josh Ramos went down to leg cramps, and the Safira Futsal scored three more times off of backup Ken Valdes to put the game away for good.
The President of Canada Futsal Kris Fernandes shared his thoughts on what was special about Safira Futsal to get them to the championship game.
“Safira has dominated for years and gained excellent experience doing so. The have won more tournaments than any other team over the last ten years in multiple countries. They have a lot of Brazilians on the team as well. It really has helped them build their program and become dominant.”
Additional Photo Credit: Richard Kruszynski/ISNSoccer.com
Shots on goal
Tor 18 – 15 – 33
SAF 13 – 7 – 20
Rodriguez, Silva, Leite (2), Renaud, Osario, Lamos, Pena, Carvalho (2), Rocha, Junior, Sobreiva
The final placing was as follows:
First Place – Safira Futsal (Boston, MA)
Second Place – Toronto United (Canada)
Third Place – ABK Futsal (Grand Rapids, MI)
Fourth Place – Columbus Futsal (Columbus, OH)
The two-day tournament featured 16 games with eight men’s teams including the 2016 Canadian champions (Toronto United) and 2016 U.S. champions (Safira). It also featured teams from five U.S. states (Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Massachusetts, and Maryland). It had quite the international flavor to it as well with teams from Guadeloupe.
The event was hosted by the Ohio North Soccer Association and was sanctioned and approved by U.S. Soccer and FIFA. It had some of the best referees in the world brought in to officiate the action, including three from Canada, three from the United States, one from Cuba, and one from South America.
The eight teams involved in this tournament were:
Safira Futsal from Lowell, Massachusetts, USA
Columbus Futsal from Columbus, Ohio, USA
Florida Crushers from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA
Barrie F.C. from Barrie, Ontario, Canada
Toronto United Futsal from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
ABK Futsal from Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
FAX Futsal from Guadeloupe, French West Indies
SMFC from Southern Maryland, USA