USA SHOWS PROMISE IN FIRST GAME OF COPA DE LAS NACIONES JUNIOR TOURNAMENT

Facing a team comprised of 10-goal legacies, USA gave a solid showing in their first match of the Copa de las Naciones Junior Tournament against Argentina 1 played on Palermo’s historic Field 1. The 2-goal American team (Landen Daniels, Bayne Bossom, Kristos Magrini, Lucas Escobar) faced a formidable force in the 4-goal Argentine team (Silvestre Heguy, Jose Riglos, Santiago Harriott, Cruz Heguy) receiving two goals on handicap at the onset of the game. Despite three unanswered goals in the first, USA did not lose heart, finding their feet in the second with a first goal from Kristos Magrini to end the half 3-5 in favor of Argentina 1.

USA's Kristos Magrini carries the ball forward.
USA’s Kristos Magrini carries the ball at full speed.

Coached by North American Copa de las Naciones team member Jesse Bray* alongside 7-goaler Matias Magrini, the youth team steadily began to build momentum as play progressed. “The kids did a great job of adapting to the open style of polo,” said Bray. “It was their first time playing together and on unfamiliar horses. I was very proud of how they kept their heads down and just kept going to the next play. They saw their efforts to score pay off with a few far shots on goal. I think they will continue to improve in their next game. The more the kids gets to play against other kids in tournaments like these, the better.” USA kicked-off second half action with a bang, scoring back-to-back field goals to equalize the score 5-all. A well-executed shot from distance landed Landen Daniels with his first goal of the game, followed up quickly by Lucas Escobar. “The boys had them tied up at one point,” said Matias Magrini. “After the first chukker they seemed to get together well and had a good run. They will keep getting better with their next game.” USA traded goals with Argentina 1 in the final chukker, matching them point for point for the first time. Kristos Magrini added his second goal of the game early on, while Escobar converted a penalty in the last moments of play for a respectable final score 7-9.

“It was very competitive and fast polo,” recounted Daniels. “I had a great time playing and now that we know each other a little better, I think we will improve in the next game. Playing at Palermo was pretty awesome. I’m excited for the next game on Friday.” Graciously hosted by Gonzalo Avendaño at his farm Patagones in Pilar, Buenos Aires, the four youth players along with North American team members Bray and Jared Zenni* will be training for their upcoming games together. USA will face Argentina A on Friday, April 27, at 12:30 pm ET, which will be livestreamed on espnpolo.com.

NORTH AMERICA BESTED BY COLOMBIA 15-2

North America: Julian Mannix, Jesse Bray, Freddie Mannix, Jared Zenni.
North America: Julian Mannix, Jesse Bray, Freddie Mannix and Jared Zenni.

Approached by Freddie and Julian Mannix to support a North American team in the Copa de las Naciones, the USPA sent Team USPA members Jesse Bray and Jared Zenni to the Argentine Polo Association hosted tournament. North America met Colombia’s Felipe Marquez, Martin Huertas, Juan Esteban and Federico Uribe in their first match on Wednesday, April 25 on Palermo’s historic Field 1. Although a disappointing start to the tournament, the team was honored to play on one of the most renowned fields in the world, and looks forward to facing Argentina in their second game on Friday, April 27.

Colombia received two goals on handicap and despite several opportunities to score, surprisingly neither team were able to find the goal in the first two chukkers. The first goal of the game came from the mallet of Colombia’s Juan Esteban Uribe on a Penalty 6 (safety) conversion. Uribe’s goal ignited a fire in his team as three additional goals were added to the board in the third, followed by two more in the fourth. Having been shut out four full chukkers, a break came in the fifth chukker when Freddie Mannix successfully converted a penalty that was soon followed by a field goal from Zenni. North America’s offensive attack was short-lived however, as Colombia relentlessly put the ball through the posts to end the day 15-2 in favor of Colombia.

Columbia's Juan Esteban Uribe and North America's Jesse Bray battle for possession.
Columbia’s Juan Esteban Uribe and North America’s Jesse Bray battle for possession.

“This is my first time ever coming to Argentina so to play in this tournament was incredible,” shared Bray. “Of course it did not go the way we wanted, and we have a lot of room to improve, but I am very appreciative of the opportunity to play.” Teammate Zenni added, “playing on Palermo Field 1 was honestly a dream come true—it’s really surreal.”

North America will meet Argentina on Friday, April 27, at 2:00pm ET. 17-year-old American Nico Escobar will substitute for Julian Mannix in Friday’s match. Fans are encouraged to watch the livestreamed game on espnpolo.com.

*Jesse Bray and Jared Zenni are members of Team USPA. Team USPA is a USPA program designed to enhance and grow the sport of polo in the United States by identifying young, talented American players and providing mentored training and playing opportunities leading to a pool of higher rated amateur and pro players and the resultant giveback to the sport of polo.

All photos ©Guadalupe Aizaga