Tournament Preview: MNT at 2023 Pan American Games
by Matthew Collins
USA Team Handball’s Men’s Indoor National Team heads into the 2023 Pan American Games looking to prolong unprecedented success at the international level in recent months, with a roster consisting of 14 athletes.
The American squad, filled predominantly with athletes who play their professional handball in Europe, will rely on veterans of the national team to carry the team through a challenging group of teams vying for Gold in Santiago. Five teams that qualified for the Handball competition at the 2023 Pan American Games, including the USA, were also part of the International Handball Federation (IHF) Men’s Handball World Championship in January 2023.
Several of the teams in the handball competition the USA has faced recently, as they have defeated fellow Group B team Cuba, and Mexico, who is in Group A, as recently as 2022. The core of the squad has remained from the previous edition of the Pan American Games, where several of the athletes selected for this year’s competition were also members on the 2019 team.
Leading the team in Santiago will be Head Coach Robert Hedin, who won a silver medal as a player at both the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics with Sweden, as well as Assistant Coach Darrick Heath, who played on the USA squad at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Benjamin Edwards, the youngest member to the 2023 Pan American Games roster at just 17 years of age, earns his first call up to the Senior National Team. Edwards is coming off impressive performances at the recent Junior and Youth World Championships, where he scored 33 and 39 goals, respectively, leading the USA at both tournaments.
Another young face in the squad is Maksim Tanner McCauley, who replaced Patrick Hueter due to injury. McCauley was the only player to compete at all levels of the IHF Men’s Handball World Championship in 2023 - Senior, Junior, and Youth.
On the other hand, 39 year-old Gary “Hangtime” Hines is the only member of the squad who has a Pan American Games medal, receiving one two decades ago in the Dominican Republic, where the US claimed Bronze. At that tournament, he scored 31 goals for the Americans, coming third in the Top Scorers ranking across all countries.
With the 2024 Olympics on the horizon, a Gold Medal at the 2023 Pan American Games would secure qualification for the United States’ team to head to Paris next summer. A recent 20th place finish at the IHF Men’s Handball World Championships creates optimism within the USA camp that qualification for Paris could come in the Championship match, set to be held on November 4th. The USA will look to capture its first medal at the Pan American Games since the 2003 edition, and improve its sixth place campaign in 2019 in Lima, Peru.
The USA’s tournament begins on October 30th, taking on Argentina, with the Americans facing Cuba on October 31st, and rounding out Group Play versus Uruguay on November 1st. The results from the US in Group B will determine their next steps in the competition.
U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; SENIOR MNT CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS: Pal Merkovszki (Carbonex-Komloi; 18/1), Douglas Otterstrom (Tyreso; 6/0)
BACKS: Ian Hueter (TSV Bayer Dormagen; 40/102), Benjamin Edwards (BFKA Veszprem; 0/0), Jonas Stromberg (IFK Ystad; 20/24), Amar Amitovic (RK Krivaja; 14/19), Aboubakar Fofana (Valence Handball; 110/163)
WINGS: Maximilian Binderis (IFK Tumba; 9/1),Sean Corning (Agustinos Alicante; 14/17), Gary Hines (SGL Langenfeld; 103/734), Samuel Hoddersen (Ademar Leon; 41/69)
LINE PLAYERS: Andrew Donlin (San Francisco CalHeat; 48/94), Domagoj Srsen (24/11), Maksim Tanner McCauley (IFK Kristianstad; 4/3)