Men's Pan American Championships Draw Announced

The Brasil Federation Website has announced the results of the draw.

Group A: Brazil, Chile, Greenland, Uruguay
Group B: Argentina, USA, Mexico, Puerto Rico

Analysis: This draw is extremely favorable for Team USA, as they will avoid Chile, Greenland, and Uruguay during group play. Argentina is the obvious favourite to win Group B and the USA – Puerto Rico match will likely determine the other team that will qualify for the semifinals and an opportunity to secure one of the top 3 places and qualification for the World Championships in Germany.

3 thoughts on “Men's Pan American Championships Draw Announced

  1. I think the funniest thing that could happen is that Puerto Rico went to the Men's WC while the USA stayed home.

    If the USA DOES make to the big dance, it could give the sport in this country a huge boost.

    Regardless of whether or not we make it, our primary focus should be creating a MNT training center and website. Because while I think what the WNT are doing is great, unfortunately in this country, women's sports are still not treated as equal to men's.

    Hopefully this will be a priority in the USOC's business plan because I do feel without this piece of the puzzle we will only set ourselves up for failure.

  2. I have to agree that the Men's team needs a center [training site]. A focus for the team and it's members. This is a good draw for the US and I hope we can take advantage of it.

  3. The United States is about to compete in the 2006 Pan American Championships. That's good news that we're able to receive an invitation (Canada didn't get one) and we've responded positively to it. We've also been place in a very favorable bracket with Argentina, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The other bracket (Brazil, Chili, Greenland, Uruguay) appears to be much more of a challenge. The arguments on the US Team Handball Men’s' program are two-fold. First, what are our chances of finishing 3rd and thus qualifying for the 2007 World championships in Germany? Second, what needs to be done to make an improvement on the US Men's National Team?

    At this point, the two issues are separate. There is not much we can do at this point that can help the US Men: competition begins in less than two weeks. So to assess the strength of the team going next week to Brazil, we must evaluate the roster, then the competition and finally the tournament format. To finish 3rd, the US will have to finish second in pool play to advance to the semi-finals, then after losing against Pan Am powerhouse Brazil, win the bronze medal match. Therefore the team needs at least one upset.

    The analysis doesn't end there. In pool play, the US faces Brazil, Mexico (MEX) and Puerto Rico (PUR). In recent memory, we haven't any problems defeating MEX or PUR. However, I believe that the principal reason we were favored was because of our experience. Since the Olympics occurred intermittently in the US, we've had Olympians to shore up our teams when we compete in Pan Am tournaments for over 20 years. However, this is the first time in 10 years that the US will be fielding a Pan Am team with just one Olympian (Tom Fitzgerald, NYAC). Considering that he's over 40, I don't think that he will be able to carry the team on his back as other Olympians such as Darrick Heath, Bobby Dunn and Mike Thornberry have done yesteryear. Thus the MEX and PUR matchups are no longer in the bag. I believe that PUR will come ready to play us. Thus we no longer need one upset: We need two.

    With the lack of Olympic experience and training, this team will fight admirably but it shouldn't be surprising if they fall short of the bronze medal. Just like American football, Team Handball is a group-coordination game and it's just unfair to expect the US to defeat other nations that have been training 4-6 times a week (this is an assumption, of course). Additionally, the 2006 Pan Am US Men's team is uncharacteristically small. According to my sources, we will be traveling with two goalkeepers (instead of the usual 3). There will be only two players with international experience at the circle position, one left-handed player and no players above 6'3". We could have gotten away with a team like this on the international stage if we had more than one Olympian. I think we're pushing our luck this time.

    We will be all rooting for our hard-working friends and teammates as they go for that Pan Am Medal. And when they come back, there will be additional arguments as to what needs to be done to bolster the US Men's handball program. From our current shortcomings, it is my personal opinion that a training center is not the priority. With a training center come high expenses and even higher expectations. There is no point in having a training center if the players cannot commit full-time, if all of their expenses cannot be covered, if there aren't any stipends, if there isn't a year-round competition schedule. If we start a training center program tomorrow, we are doomed to spending a lot of money and getting marginal results. Our Olympians have almost all retired, our player pool has shrunk and is disproportionate. The top priority for the US Men's program is to expand the player pool with new blood. We are a sports-driven country, there are athletes everywhere: big or tall, fast and/or strong. Our potential is still there.

    The current gaps in the US Men's program will not be simple to solve. It will take hard work and smart sports people to get us out of it. And that responsibility does not fall on the USOC, contrary to what most of us think. The USOC's drive is sports excellence. Consequently, we must excel in our sport before we receive any additional support from the USOC.

Comments are closed.