Legacy’s Brett Epstein recently returned from Chile where he participated in the Maccabi Pan American games. Epstein started every game at center midfield and his play helped the U.S. team bring home the bronze medal. The tournament had an opening ceremony with over 10,000 people in attendance. Epstein said walking into the stadium with the U.S. delegation was a moment he will never forget.
Here is a game by a game recap.
Game one versus Great Britain found the Americans down 1-0 at halftime. The Brits played the typical English style with long balls and physical play. Team USA rallied in the second half to equalize. With five minutes remaining, the U.S. found the goal on a set play off of a corner kick. It was an exhilarating match and set the tone for the rest of the tournament.
For the second game, versus Brazil, Brett was chosen as a captain. Brazil was very strong technically. Lots of talent. However, it amazed Epstein that grown men can play so dirty and flop and roll on the ground like pros on TV. The Brazilians did not respect the game as later in the tournament they were forced to forfeit their game against Great Britain as one of their player’s head-butted the referee. The U.S. took Brazils best shot but played dominant defense to settle for a 0-0 tie.
The third game was played against host Chile, on a beautiful field with hundreds of fans watching. The game ended 1-1 but and they walked off the field like they lost as they controlled the game and kept possession 75% of the game. The coach named Epstein MVP of the game, it was his best match thus far and as the man of the match, Epstein received the Chilean pennant that the captains exchange before every game.
The beautiful game we all love can sometimes leave us heartbroken. Team USA played Argentina needing a win or tie to advance to the gold medal game. Argentina was very strong in every aspect of the game with some brilliant players. The U.S. fell behind 1-0 with about 16 minutes to go. With six minutes to go, the U.S. scored off of Epstein’s long throw in. Unfortunately, with two minutes to play, the referee awarded Argentina a free kick from 19 yards out as he fell for the Argentina diving and flopping. Argentina scored the game winner and forced the U.S. to play for third. Argentina ended up winning the tournament.
For the first time in the tournament, the U.S. felt a little pressure. If they lost the rematch against Great Britain, they would come home without a medal. The team shook off the tough loss to Argentina and took the field confident they could beat the Brits yet again. Epstein made sure of it by scoring one of the best goals of his life with a blast into the upper corner about 10 minutes in. Another late game collapse allowed GB to tie the game with a minute left. After a scoreless 20 minutes of overtime, it was off to the dreaded penalty kicks. The USA prevailed in kicks and the celebration in Santiago, Chile began.
While the soccer experience was amazing, Brett stated the best part was the time with teammates and making new friends from all over the world. He also added that he is proof that no one, regardless of their age, should ever give up on their dreams.