USA Vs AUS January 4 at Bondi Icebergs
December 23, 2011 Leave a comment
The US team’s visit to Australia is a part of their preparation for the London Olympic games. America has a proud history of achievements in men’s water polo; Bronze in Munich-72 and three Silvers at the Los-Angeles-84, Seoul-88 and, most recently, Beijing-08 Olympiads (OG). They also won the World (FINA) Cup in 1991 and 1997. The American water polo school has produced many world class players, among them Chris Humbert, Craig Wilson, and Garry Figueroa, to name a few.
Goalkeeper Wilson was instrumental in their win of the World Cup in 1991.
Humbert was an extremely skillful & versatile player. He was unstoppable in 1997 when they won the World Cup again. However, he also let them down at the Atlanta-96 OG through his hot temper and ill playing discipline. In January 1998 the Australian team’s game plan at the World Championships in Perth was based upon “cutting off” supply of the ball to and neutralizing Humbert. Our team managed to do it and won the important match.
Figueroa had a most unusual and lethal shooting technique. I remember seeing him for the first time at the First World Cup tournament in 1979 in the former Yugoslavia. His skills impressed the entire Soviet team then.
Their current Head coach is Terry Schroeder who himself was a good center-forward and a member of the US team in those medal winning 1984, 1988 and 1991. He was appointed in 2004 and led the US team to Silver medals at the Beijing OG-08.
Schroeder did a good job managing the team to that outstanding result. However, it must be said, that it is Ratko Rudic – the famous Croatian coach – who virtually made that team from scratch in the period from 2000-04 and built very strong foundations for the US’ future success. Although the Americans came 7th at the Olympiad in Athenes-04, that country’s Federation made a correct and proper decision to offer Ratko another 4 years contract. But he decided to return to Croatia to take the reins of the National team. Since then Croatia won the Melbourne-07 World Championships and several other big-time medals at various World events. The last one being Bronze at the WC in Shanghai-11.
The current US team has many strong players. It will be a strong contender in London-12. The ones to watch are Tony Azevedo, Jeff Powers and Ryan Baily.