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Mosconi Cup: Europe Bombs USA in Day 1
Dec 9, 2011, 8:44 AM

The Europeans had plenty to celebrate after taking a 4-1 lead on Day 1. (Photo by Matchroom Sport)
Any home-field advantage held by the Americans in the 2011 Mosconi Cup, running through Sunday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, went out the window on Thursday afternoon. The team competition decided by the first team to win 11 matches opened with a stunning display of grit from the European side.

Chris Melling, the only rookie on an otherwise highly experienced Team Europe, looked a bit shaky in his debut in the opening match, which featured all 10 players in a new format that matched two players per rack. Playing opposite Mike Dechaine, Melling didn't get out of his chair as the American rookie cleared from the break. But the Brit got his chance his next time around. On the hill, 6-5, Melling clinched the opening point for Team Europe by steadying his nerves for a testy clearance.

But Melling couldn't keep rolling in his next match, a double contest with Nick van den Berg against Team USA's Johnny Archer and Shawn Putnam. The Americans roared back from a 3-1 hole to take the match, 6-4. Archer, making his 15th appearance in the transatlantic competition, steadied his partner after a rough start. With both players exchanging fist bumps with each pocketed 9 ball, Archer and Putnam looked at ease as they knotted the contest at 1-1.

The momentum, though, quickly returned to the visiting team. Niels Feijen bombed Rodney Morris, 6-0, in a singles set to give Europe the advantage. Things only got worse for the Americans. Dechaine and Shane Van Boening grabbed a 4-0 lead in the doubles set against Ralf Souquet and Darren Appleton. But the young guns opened the door for perhaps Europe's two strongest players when Dechaine missed a tricky 9 ball to go up 5-2. Instead of being on the hill, Team USA watched the Europeans swipe the next three racks for a 6-4 victory.

Up 3-1 entering the final singles match, Team Europe was playing with house money, as newbie Melling squared off with Van Boening, considered America's strongest player by many. Early in the set, the 28-year-old showed why he's so highly regarded, as he grabbed a 3-0 lead over Melling. But again, the European side would not surrender. Melling inched back into the set, eventually knotting the match on the hill, 5-5. He took the deciding rack to finish what certainly must be considered a dream first day for Team Europe.

With a 4-1 lead in hostile territory Team Europe lost the 2009 Cup, the last in Las Vegas the visiting squad looks to keep things rolling on Day 2. The Americans, meanwhile, must regroup and find a way to finish matches. First-time coach Charlie Williams will be counted on heavily to repair the psychological damage of a disastrous opening day.

More information on the 2011 Mosconi Cup, visit www.matchroompool.com. The live Internet stream for the Mosconi Cup is available for purchase through www.livesport.tv.