As the USMNT continue their road to Russia in World Cup Qualifying, another elite national soccer team is gearing up for a major tournament: the US Paralympic National Soccer Team. The squad is now in Rio de Janeiro, where they’ll kick off their participation in the 2016 summer Paralympic Games on Sept. 8 vs. the Netherlands.
A squad of 14 men will represent the US at the Games, which celebrate their 14th summer edition this year. Ranging in age from 18 to 35, they include five players diagnosed with cerebral palsy, four with traumatic brain injury (TBI), three who have suffered a stroke, and two with a combination of TBI and stroke. Four are current or active military. (You can read more about how players qualify here.)
To celebrate these athletes’ stories, US Soccer recently released an exclusive video series: One Nation. One Team. 14 Stories. You can watch them all and learn more about their path to the team on the US Soccer site, or on the US Soccer YouTube channel.
This is a huge year for the team, led by head coach Stuart Sharp. In June 2015, at the 2015 Cerebral Palsy Football World Championships in Staffordshire, England, they beat Argentina 4-1. That meant a seventh-place finish overall in that tournament, and a berth clinched for this year’s Paralympic Games.
Now, they’ve got three matches slated in this year’s Games, which, for soccer, will follow a seven-a-side format. Besides the tourney-opening match vs. the Netherlands on Sept. 8, they’ll face Iran on Sept. 10, and Argentina again on Sept. 12.
Get ready to cheer on another national team – and learn all about the USPNT on the US Soccer site.
2016 USPNT ROSTER:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Sean Boyle (Minneapolis, Minn.), Alex Hendricks (Columbus, Ohio)
DEFENDERS (3): Bryce Boarman (Colorado Springs, Colo.), David Garza (San Diego, Calif.), Gavin Sibayan (Denver, Colo.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Mason Abbiate (San Diego, Calif.), Tyler Bennett (Akron, Ohio), Steven Bohlemann (Weston, Fla.), Gregory Brigman (Harrisburg, N.C.), Josh Brunais (Stafford, Va.), Kevin Hensley (Memphis, Tenn.)
FORWARDS (3): Adam Ballou (Virginia Beach, Va.), Drew Bremer (Grand Rapids, Mich.), Seth Jahn (Lakeland, Fla.)