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Archive for June 10, 2019

June 10, 2019 — 60 minutes away from 120 minutes

Earlier today, the U.S. men’s field hockey team achieved a 2-2 draw with Japan. That tie puts the American men — an unfancied group of amateurs at the start of the FIH Series final in Bhubaneswar — in the semifinal round of its tournament.

That means if the Americans are able to beat the winner of the Russia-South Africa play-in game this coming Friday, they will not only make the final of this FIH Series tournament, they will qualify automatically into one of the seven two-legged ties that will determine who goes to the Olympics.

Deegan Huisman, a Dutch-born forward, had a brace for the United States, and German-born goalie Jonathan Klages had himself a fine effort against the Japanese side.

For an American program which has qualified for only one world-level tournament tournament on its own (i.e., when it has not been the host nation) since 1954, this step up in class is almost unprecedented. One can point to the ease of the Americans’ draw in this tournament, but the States have been training together in an almost “us against the world” attitude for years.

It’s an attitude you need to have after having not received the same kinds of training and residency opportunities the women’s national team has gotten since the opening of Spooky Nook. Or the fact that there is no varsity men’s field hockey in a U.S. college or secondary school.

This is a story that bears watching; this is the best opportunity for the U.S. men to make a major tournament since finishing second in the Pan American Cup ten years ago.