Team USA storms back into Mosconi Cup contention

Things are looking a lot rosier for Team USA

TEAM AMERICA kicked into gear at the 2006 Mosconi Cup as they finally got their act together to clean sweep the Sunday afternoon team games and square the match up at nine points each with just the singles matches to play.

It was a sharp turnaround as a previously fractured looking unit found some team spirit to turn the tournament around and make themselves betting favourites to retain the trophy.

The opening match of the afternoon was a team affair with all six players taking part and it was the Americans who looked more composed as they completed a 6-3 lead to peg back the Europeans.

The other two matches were trebles and in the first, the European group of Majid, Engert and van den Berg looked to be in the driving seat at 5-3 ahead in the race-to-six match.

However, a bad miss by Imran Majid gifted the ninth rack to the Americans. They took the next to put it hill-hill but Thomas Engert nudged the 3 ball with his cue while going for the 1 and that gave the match to the American team of Strickland, Schmidt and Deuel.

In the final match it was one way traffic as Archer, Morris and Davis hammered Immonen, Souquet and Alcaide 6-1.

The momentum has swung hugely in favour of the Americans and if their Sunday night singles track record is anything to go by, they may already have one hand on the trophy.

Match Reports

Team Europe 3 – 6 Team USA

AMERICA narrowed the gap to two points by sealing the opening match of Day Four.

The USA side defeated Europe 6-3 to make the overall score 9-7 in the Europeans favour at the Cruise Terminal, Rotterdam.

Team Europe won the opening lag and looked to be in a good position to win the first rack. But a poor positional shot from Imran Majid going from the brown seven to black eight forced Nick van den Berg to play safe.

Mika Immonen later missed the 8-ball and two fine shots, one from Rodney Morris and one from Mike Davis, saw America steal the rack and move into a 1-0 lead. The advantage was soon doubled as USA ran through the second with John Schmidt, the only player not to have won any of his singles, doubles or triples matches so far, potted a confidence-building 9-ball.

David Alcaide broke in the third and potted the 3-ball but left Ralf Souquet with no shot on the 1-ball. The Kaiser reached for his jump cue but got his effort wrong as the cue ball ended up on the arena floor to give America ball in hand.

Both sides missed chances to take the rack with Immonen making the decisive mistake by missing the brown seven and Davis again finished it off to move the score to 3-0.

Corey Deuel broke in the fourth and USA was never in trouble as John Schmidt completed the run out as America closed in on the first point of the day.

A missed 5-9 combination from Davis brought Europe to the table and Majid, who had earlier made an error by losing position going from the two to the three, sunk the 9-ball for Europe's first rack of the afternoon.

Davis did well to pot the 4-ball in the next thanks to a jump shot but with no position on the green six forced Deuel to play safe. He left a chance for Immonen but the Finn failed to convert, although the ball went safe before Strickland's swerve attempt at the same ball was also unsuccessful.

Alcaide sunk the tricky 6-ball and that led to Majid potting the 9-ball for the second time in the match as the score moved to 4-2.

Europe continued their fightback by running through the seventh as Alcaide clinched the third rack in a row. But that run ended in the next as America moved to the hill at 5-3.

Souquet failed with an attempted two-rail escape after Morris had left him snookered on the blue two to give the US side ball in hand before Davis again sealed the rack. The Europeans had a chance in the ninth but Alcaide missed the red three and a 3-9 carom from Strickland sealed the point.

Majid / Engert / van den Berg 5 - 6 Strickland / Schmidt / Deuel

CRUCIAL errors from Europe handed America another point on the final day of the 2006 Mosconi Cup.

The Europeans lead 5-3 but Imran Majid missed a simple-looking shot at the 6-ball and then, when the match had become a hill-hill affair, Thomas Engert nudged the red three with his cue while shooting at the 1-ball.

It brought the score back to 9-8 in Europe's favour and they would be hoping that these mistakes would not prove critical.

Europe won the lag but lost position and USA looked to take an early lead. However, John Schmidt missed a 9-ball, much to the frustration of team-mate Earl Strickland, and Thomas Engert softly rolled the 9-ball into the top left pocket to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.

But America won the next as Strickland pocketed the 9-ball to match the score tied at 1-1 before they took the lead by winning the third. Schmidt played safe on the green six but the following shot from Imran Majid was poor and he left the same ball over the right centre pocket as USA moved in front.

However, it did not last long as an error from Strickland, who missed a relatively easy shot on the green three, led to Majid making it 2-2.

Deuel scratched as the 2-ball nudged the white into the top left pocket. With the remaining balls spread out, Team Europe completed the run out to take the lead at 3-2.

A gentle break from Strickland in the next split the pack and left an easy shot on the 1-ball. The Americans then worked their way through the table to level things up 3-3.

Thomas Engert kept his composure to sink the 9-ball in the seventh rack, as Europe edged ahead once more at 4-3.

After a lengthy safety battle at the start of the eighth, Deuel left the 1-ball on and van den Berg pocketed it and gave Engert a shot at the 2-ball. It got better for Europe as a 3-9 combination from Majid took the Europeans to the hill and 5-3 ahead.

Europe should have sealed the victory but Majid missed a straightforward shot at the green six with the Europeans only four balls away from winning the point. Strickland won the rack for USA to keep the match alive as Europe were hoping they would not live to regret that miss.

America piled on the pressure on the hosts as they ran through the tenth rack to make it a hill-hill affair.

Thomas Engert made a critical error in the 11th as, while playing a shot at the 1-ball, nudged the 3-ball with his cue to foul and give the Americans ball in hand.

They could not believe their luck and they stole the point as John Schmidt sunk the 9-ball to seal the win.

Souquet / Alcaide / Immonen 1 - 6 Archer / Morris / Davis

AMERICA'S fightback continued in fine style as they recorded their third successive victory of Sunday afternoon.

The trio of Johnny Archer, Rodney Morris and Mike Davis thrashed the European side of Ralf Souquet, Mika Immonen and David Alcaide by a score of 6-1 at the Cruise Terminal, Rotterdam.

USA captain Johnny Archer believed the good session for his side was down to them playing as more of a team today.

Archer said: "We've had momentum go our way and we've all played a little better today. We want to win. It's taken us three days to come together and to be honest we've just not come together before now.

"But I think our rookies are getting a lot more comfortable. The European team didn't play their game, unlike the last three days. All we can do is our best and hope the score is on our side."

USA had won the first two matches of the session and were hoping for more glory in the last encounter of Sunday afternoon.

David Alcaide gave Europe a good start by sealing the opening rack but a foul from Mika Immonen in the second presented the USA by ball in hand and they made the score 1-1 before they moved ahead as Davis sealed the next.

Europe were now making mistakes that had not been seen in the previous days and an error from Souquet, who had won all of his singles, doubles and triples matches, gave the Americans another chance.

The Kaiser missed his attempt at the blue two and also scratched to give USA ball in hand and they took full advantage to move to 3-1 ahead.

It was proving to be a terrible session for the Europeans and America get the best of a lengthy safety exchange for a 4-1 lead.

Europe broke in the sixth and would have been hoping to run out the rack but were left hooked off of the break and Souquet then left a shot at the 1-ball. That mistake was capitalised on and Mike Davis dispatched the 9-ball to give his side a 5-1 as they moved to the hill.

America had the break in the seventh and were expected to seal the victory. When Johnny Archer pocketed the 1-ball and the 4-ball and gave Rodney Morris a shot at the 2-ball it became a formality that the USA completed with Morris sinking the 9-ball.

Despite the poor session, Souquet remained confident of a European overall win. He said: "We're going to have a nice dinner and talk about what went wrong. We played horribly but that's how it is in 9-ball pool.

"Sometimes you have to deal with that and it's still an open race. There's six more matches to go and we will see what happens. For some reason we did everything wrong that we could do. We didn't really do anything differently to the other three days but played crucial mistakes.