Team USA Men’s Water Polo Opens FINA World League Semifinals in Fine Fashion

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., July 20. TEAM USA bumped its FINA World League record to 3-0 after slamming China in the first game of the FINA World League Semifinals in Los Alamitos, 20-2. Despite a minor delay in starting the game due to a broken cage, Team USA kept its pre-game momentum. Tony Azevedo led the team with four goals, but every U.S. field player connected for a score. The night’s first game between France and Canada proved to be the closest game of the evening with France ahead, 6-4, at the final buzzer. Australia beat Brazil 12-2 in game two.

"China is a large team, physical team and it's one of those things, where no matter what you have to come out and play,” Team USA head coach Ricado Azevedo said. “For us, we work on different things in there. We weren't just working on playing. We were working on specific post-ups and situations of the game. We're not looking at the score or that kind of stuff. We're looking at more `Look at this setup' or `Let's work this situation.' As you can see by the first and second halves, we played two totally different defenses. We're working for the future to the next game and the next game. So I think you can always get a lot of positive out of it.''

The USA came out thrashing in the first quarter with nine goals and kept up the heat. Every field player on the U.S. team notched at least one goal for the home team by the end of the fourth quarter, 20-2. In the first quarter, Jeff Powers powered a shot off from center with three defenders and the Chinese goalkeeper closing in on him. With the U.S. up by 19 late in the fourth quarter, China’s Zhidong drew an ejection and scored. He was the only scorer on the Chinese team.

"We come out here every game wanting to come out hard and work on everything regardless if it is China or Serbia,” Team USA player Rick Merlo said. “We work on the same things. When we do get up, yeah we slow it up and work on tactical stuff. Not treat it like a practice but still go for it. You can't let down for any team. We try to start every game with the same mentality regardless of who it is. The best team or the worst team in the world, we have to come out hard.''

Water polo action will continue July 20 with games between Australia and France (5:45 p.m.), Brazil and China (7:15 p.m.) and USA and Canada (8:45 p.m.)

USA – 9 6 3 2 – 20
CHN – 1 0 0 1 – 2

USA – P. Varellas 2, P. Hudnut 1, J. Powers 1, A. Wright 2, K. Witt 1, R. Bailey 3, T. Azevedo 4, R. Merlo 2, B. Alexander 1, J. Smith 2, S. Dornin 1
CHN – Z. Han 2

USA – M. Moses 7
CHN – W. Ge 6

USA – 7 of 8, 2 of 2 (penalty)
CHN – 1 of 3, 1 of 1 (penalty)

DELEGATE: Gianni Lonzi, Bill Frady
REFEREES: Vanhems, Valouche

AUS – 3 5 3 1 – 12
BRA – 0 0 1 1 – 2

AUS – T. Franklin 3, L. Gavin 1, P. Tresise 1, T. Neesham 2, S. McGregor 2, T. Whalan 1, R. Maitland 1, R. Moody 1
BRA – F. Franco 1, D. Mameri 1

AUS – L. Trettel 8, L. Quinlivan 1
BRA – A. Cordeiro 10

AUS – 0 of 6, 1 of 2 (penalty)
BRA – 1 of 6, 0 of 1 (penalty)

DELEGATE: Gianni Lonzi, Bill Frady

CAN – 2 1 0 1 – 4
FRA – 4 0 1 1 – 6

CAN – K. Mitchell 1, K. Graham 1, A. Feltham 2
FRA – F. Audon 4, R. Blary 1, Q. Chipotel 1

CAN – N. Youngblud 6
FRA – B. Bry 8

CAN – 1 of 7, 1 0f 1 (penalty)
FRA – 1 of 3, 0 of 1 (penalty)

DELEGATE: Gianni Lonzi, Bill Frady
REFEREES: Hart, Patelli

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