BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Birmingham-Southern Men's Soccer Coach Preston Goldfarb made history last week, not just for the college or even the state, but for the nation, leading the Maccabi USA Men's Soccer team to gold at the 19th World Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem, Israel.
Goldfarb coached the Maccabi USA Open Men's Soccer Team at this year's games, held July 17-30. It was his third time coaching in the games, having coached Team USA at the 18th World Maccabiah Games in 2009 and the Maccabi Australia International Games in 2010. This year's gold medal is the first for the United States in the sport of men's soccer.
The team opened the games going 2-1 in group play, losing to Uruguay in the opening game but rallying with defeats of Denmark and Mexico to move to the quarterfinals. In the quarterfinals, Team USA shut out Germany, 7-0, to move to the semfinals, where they defeated Canada 5-0 to move to the final game against Argentina. Goldfarb's team played Argentina to a 2-2 tie and won the gold medal on penalty kicks, 4-3.
"When we all met for the first time on July 7 in Tel Aviv, I told the team to dare to dream the impossible, so they can achieve the possible," Goldfarb said. "That was how we were going to win this tournament. They all bought in to our philosophy about how we would play, and they all left their individual egos at the door. They were a dream to coach and be with, as they brought honor to the program. Only three of these players had ever played together. We had 10 training sessions to get on the same page as a team.
"Before the final game against Argentina, I told them I did not want to talk about winning and losing, but rather about life," Goldfarb continued. "I told them, it is very rare in one's life that they get a chance to do something no one else has ever done, and make history doing it. In the past 76 years of the World Maccabiah Games, no USA men's soccer team has ever won a gold medal. Only two teams before us have ever made it to the finals, the 1981 and 2005 teams did, but lost in that final game to only achieve the silver medal. Our 2013 team was the third team to make the finals and the very first team to win the gold medal and make history!
"Someone asked me, after we won, who our best player was and I told them we did not have a best player, but rather a team that was the superstar. So, we dared to dream the impossible and we did achieve the possible... the first gold medal for the USA Maccabi Men's Soccer Team."