U.S. Maccabiah Looks to Make History Against Israel, Kirshner Seeks Gold After Wins Against South Africa and Mexico

July 19, 2005

SAN DIEGO - The U.S. Maccabiah team has the opportunity to win gold after reaching the final of the 17th Maccabiah Games in Israel. This would be the first Maccabiah soccer World Championship for the U.S. in the games' 73 year history.

San Diego State University head coach Lev Kirshner and his Maccabiah assistant Amos Magee will be only the second and third U.S. Maccabiah soccer participants to win two medals in the open soccer competition. Both coaches played for the first participant, Fairleigh Dickinson head coach Seth Roland, who won silver as a player in 1981 and led Kirshner and Magee to bronze in 1993. This will be the first opportunity at a gold medal for the U.S. since Roland lost to South Africa in the 1981 final.

The U.S. has continued to dominate play in the elimination rounds, outshooting their opponents 41-12. Unfortunately, the victories have not come easy as the U.S. beat South Africa in the quarterfinal, 3-2, and took double overtime and penalty kicks against Mexico to reach the final. Kirshner explained with relief, "These were two very organized and tenacious defenses and we did what was necessary to advance. The game of soccer has its moments where it can be very cruel to the better squad and, fortunately, we were able to get the victories we deserved."

Jonathan Bornstein scored two goals in beating the relentless South Africans. The U.S. led throughout the entire contest, but could not put the South Africans away until the final whistle blew. Under-20 National team player, Benny Feilhaber and Belgrade professional, Jordan Gruber, both hit the woodwork during the match, while many other near misses kept the match close.

Although the U.S. outshot continental rival Mexico, 24-5, they could not find the net as three of their opportunities smashed off the crossbar only to be denied. Again, Feilhaber was excrutiatingly close as he hit a world class free kick that ricocheted off the bar and seemed to cross the goal line before bouncing out of the goal. Goalkeeper Matt Reiswerg held Mexico scoreless for 120 minutes, collecting his third shutout in four matches.

Once in the penalty kick stage, the game lost its comfort for the U.S. as Mexico had the opportunity to win on what could have been their last spot kick. Reiswerg came up big to his left saving the potential game winning strike before Michael Goldman tied the match at 4-4. Then, in dramatic fashion, Reiswerg, again, saved the next shot to allow Jaryd Goldberg the winning kick that palced the U.S. into the final game against Israel.

"This is the biggest coaching moment in my career. The chance to beat Israel for a World Championship is what we prepared for from day one," Kirshner exclaimed, "I only hope I can make the same statement after Wednesday night's contest."

The U.S. play Wednesday, July 20, at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium, where professional club Maccabiah Haifa host their home matches. The game will be broadcast on Israeli television.

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