Saturday, March 13, 2010

13 March 1955 - Four Teams, Three Medals (Sorry, Venezuela)

On 13 March 1955, the opening matches of the Pan American Games' football tournament were played in Mexico City. Although 22 nations participated in the Games, only four sent teams for football: Venezuela, the Netherlands Antilles, hosts Mexico, and defending champions Argentina.

The tournament used a table format, with two points for a win and one for a draw. Each team played the other three two times, for a total of six matches each, with the top team at the finish taking the gold medal.

The two opening-day matches were both close, as Mexico played Venezuela to a 1-1 draw, while Argentina beat the Netherlands Antilles 2-1. In the latter match, the Netherlands Antilles took a shock lead in the 9th minute, but the defending champions scored two goals in under three minutes (20', 22') to take the lead and the win. The Netherlands Antilles were hampered by the loss of a player to injury in the 70th minute and finished the match with 10 men.

Argentina repeated as champions with 5 wins and a draw, while Mexico took the silver and the Netherlands Antilles went home with the bronze. Venezuela finished out of medal position at the bottom of the table with only one win to go with two draws and three losses.

The US, which chose not to send a football team to Mexico despite participating in the rest of the Games, nevertheless had an impact on the pitch, as the referees for both opening matches were Americans.

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