Winnipeg, Canada – Brad Schumacher, Chi Kredell and Chris Humbert scored four goals apiece, and the United States defense held Mexico scoreless in the second half en route to a 20-2 shellacking of Mexico in preliminary play Sunday at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada.
Schumacher pumped in three of his four in the first period. Kredell, the team’s defensive specialist, turned offensive in the second period alongside FINA World Team MVP Humbert, who marked his debut at the Pan Am Games with four goals spread across limited play in three periods.
“I needed to get in a little action before semifinals,” Humbert said. “I hadn’t played in 10 days and needed to see how I felt after a few minutes in the water.” Humbert missed Team USA’s first two matches with an ear infection. “I felt good,” he continued. “Better than I thought I would. The goals were just a bonus.”
The U.S. scored early and often, utilizing the team’s speed to create breakaway opportunities early in the game for Schumacher. The United States’ strength and agility in the post took over in the second half, leading to several two-meter chances for Humbert and Ryan Bailey. Chances Bailey and Humbert couldn’t bury were flipped to Gavin Arroyo and Tony Azevedo, who dropped in two apiece with lightning-quick shots from the four-meter point position.
“The offensive system worked to perfection,” said coach John Vargas. “When we wanted to go inside, we went inside. If we wanted to look outside, we had that opportunity as well. Mexico was just overmatched. We certainly respect all our opponents, and Mexico is significantly improved from when we saw them 10 days ago. We just have too much power for them right now.”
The United States defeated Mexico 22-1 at the UPS Cup 10 days ago in Newport Beach.
As the offense rolled up the numbers, goalies Dan Hackett and Sean Nolan did their best impression of a brick wall, stopping better than 90 percent of Mexico’s shots.
“I’m pretty pleased with our goaltending and defense in general in this tournament,” Nolan said. “It’s not often that you’re able to keep the scores as low as they’ve been. It’s been fun so far, but we can expect more challenges on goal in the next few games.”
The United States has secured the top seed in Pool B with today’s victory. The team now has Monday and Tuesday off before taking on the No. 2 seed in Pool A at 2:45 p.m. on Wednesday.