Fishtown Residents Lead Team U.S.A. to Gold Medal in Futsal at Pan American Maccabi Games

Tyler Weiss and Ethan Clearfield
(Photo by Martin Ponczyk)

In late December and early January, Team U.S.A. won the gold medal in futsal, a version of indoor soccer, at the Pan American Maccabi Games. It was the first gold medal in the sport for the American team since the U.S. futsal program began in 2009.

The group’s championship victory came against an Argentina team that had won the futsal title in Jewish athletic competitions in 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2022. Before that matchup, representatives from the Argentina team asked the Americans to quickly clear the Buenos Aires court after the game. In their home country, the Argentinians planned to celebrate.

But the Americans scored two late goals to break a 4-4 tie and win 6-4.

Two Fishtown residents, Tyler Weiss, the team’s coach, and Ethan Clearfield, its goalkeeper, helped lead the squad to victory. Without their friendship, it probably would not have been possible.

Their First Meeting

Clearfield, 26, grew up in Richboro and attended the New Hope-based Solebury School in ninth and 10th grades. In the fall of 2021, he was moving back to the Philadelphia area after some time away. So, his mother decided to reach out to the man who would be coaching Team Israel in Philadelphia’s World Cup-style Unity Cup soccer tournament.

She felt like her son would need friends, according to Weiss, the man she contacted.

Clearfield had already played goalkeeper for Team U.S.A. in two previous Pan American Maccabi Games. Weiss asked the goalkeeper if he wanted to play the same position for Team Israel. Clearfield said yes.

After their first Unity Cup game, the two went to lunch.

“We clicked,” Clearfield said.

Pan American Maccabi Games

A year later, Clearfield planned to man his goalkeeper spot in his fifth Pan American Maccabi Games. But as the tournament got closer, his team needed a coach. The original coach had ghosted the team.

Maccabi U.S.A. asked Clearfield and another captain if they had any replacement coaches in mind. Clearfield suggested Weiss.

The interview process came down to Weiss and another guy. The Fishtown resident said he wanted to develop the team and not just gather a bunch of players together.

A few weeks after the interview, Weiss and Clearfield had lunch.

“He said, ‘Tyler, you’ve got the job,’” Weiss recalled.

Weiss stayed on to coach the U.S. team in the Pan American Maccabi Games.

The Championship Game

Team U.S.A. won gold in futsal at the 2023-’24 Pan American Maccabi Games in Argentina. (Photo by Martin Ponczyk)

The gold medal game with Argentina was a back-and-forth affair. Argentina scored 25 seconds into the game. Then the U.S. answered. Then Argentina took the lead again. The U.S. tied it and took its first lead going into halftime.

“That gave us confidence,” Clearfield said.

Late in the contest, the score was tied. During a timeout, Clearfield “was a little stressed,” said Weiss. The coach turned to him and said, “This is fun.” Then he said it again.

“Ethan said, ‘You know what? This is fun,’” Weiss recalled.

The coach turned to his co-coach on the sideline and said, “He’s not going to concede another.”


After the victory, Weiss “collapsed in tears,” he said. Clearfield thought back on his 10 years and five previous tournaments with the U.S.A. team. They had never even medaled before.

But this year’s team was better, according to Clearfield. It brought back half the roster from the 2022 team, but it also picked up some quality players. One had played Major League Soccer in the U.S. for two years. Another had played college futsal in Scotland. A third was an Argentinian American who had played professionally in Argentina.

Weiss’ approach to recruiting was simple: look for Jewish last names. The coach went through Division 1 collegiate rosters, indoor professional rosters and other lists. When he saw a player who might have been Jewish, he found a way to reach out. Weiss and Clearfield also had friends contact them about potential players.

Clearfield compared the 2023-’24 team to the 2019 squad. Four-plus years ago, the Americans were “defending for our lives,” he said.

“We couldn’t score,” he added.

But this team “had the whole thing,” he said.

Perhaps most importantly, it had “resiliency,” Clearfield said. Down 4-3 to Mexico in their opening game, the Americans pulled Clearfield to have him attack so they’d have an extra player. They scored twice to win late.

In the second game, they played Argentina and lost but hung around. Then after a tie, they made the semifinals and won 5-1.

“A lot of resiliency,” Clearfield said.

Other Local Medalists

Seven other Philadelphia-area athletes and coaches medaled at the games. They were Gianna Duddy and Sarah Edelson in field hockey (bronze), Joelle Pearlstein and Evelyn Shanefield in volleyball (gold), Sofia Singer and Taylor Weiss in soccer (gold) and Charlie Trey-Masters in basketball (gold).

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