After downing his espresso (and tweeting about it), U.S. men’s water polo team captain Tony Azevedo (who we profiled in our July issue) led his squad to a 10-8 victory over the Romanians in London today. Cosmin Radu set the pace early for the blue, yellow, and red with a goal in the first minute-and-a-half. Azevedo answered a couple minutes later, threading the needle between two defenders and drawing the exclusion on a foul that left him cap-less. Despite the contact, Azevedo let loose a wheeling shot that rocketed past Romanian goalkeeper Dragos Stoenescu. The rhythm of the first quarter was set, with each team offensively strong, leading to a 3-3 break after one quarter.
The second quarter didn’t look good for the U.S. Heating up, Radu gunned one shot up the belly of the goal and another one cross-cage into the mesh to put Romania up 5-3. But Azevedo kicked in as facilitator for Peter Varellas and Ryan Bailey, feeding them passes and setting them up for opportunities that would lead to a 3-0 scoring deficit in the third quarter. Merrill Moses solidified the win with wall-like defensive playing that hampered the Romanian bullets throughout the second half. Each team scored three goals a piece in the last quarter, but that wasn’t enough for Romania. Not everybody on Team USA was all smiles, however—Azevedo received a red card on a turnover foul with nine seconds left in the match. With the misconduct, Azevedo was done for the day.
“Thank you everyone for the support!” he tweeted after the game. “We r where we want to be. Apparently clapping at the referee equals red card. Next time I will just wink.”
USA’s next match, against Great Britain, will take place Thursday. Today’s win leaves the Americans undefeated as they attempt to win the country’s first gold medal in the sport since 1904. We won the silver medal in Beijing.