America failed in its newest bid to qualify for the Olympic males’s soccer event on Sunday, falling to Honduras, 2-1, in a regional qualifying event in Mexico. A goalkeeping blunder proved to be the distinction, however the feeling was all too acquainted.
The defeat was a humbling finish to one more Olympic qualifying marketing campaign for america males, and it means the Individuals will miss their third straight Olympics. A United States males’s staff final appeared within the Video games in 2008, and now has did not qualify for the Olympics in 4 of the previous 5 cycles.
Objectives by Honduras on both facet of halftime — a bundled end by the Brooklyn-born striker Juan Carlos Obregón Jr. in first-half stopped time and a deflected aim as a disastrous mistake by goalkeeper David Ochoa minutes into the second half — proved decisive, and despatched the Hondurans to their fourth straight Olympics. Honduras completed fourth in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, shedding to the eventual champion, Brazil, within the semifinals.
“The aim was to qualify for the Olympics, and we didn’t get the job performed as we speak,” defender Henry Kessler stated.
U.S. Soccer will nonetheless have a consultant in Tokyo: Its world champion ladies’s staff certified final 12 months and shall be a favourite to assert its fifth gold medal within the sport when the Olympics open in July. American males’s groups have performed within the Olympics 4 occasions however have by no means gained a medal.
Not like most tournaments, the Olympic qualifying occasion is all in regards to the semifinals. In CONCACAF, the area that features groups from North and Central America and the Caribbean, solely the 2 semifinal winners advance to Tokyo, making victory in a kind of matches the aim and rendering the ultimate on Tuesday — Honduras will play the winner of Sunday’s second semifinal between Mexico and Canada — an afterthought.
United States Coach Jason Kreis and his staff had Sunday’s sport — regardless of the opponent — on their minds all week. “Finally, we all know the subsequent sport is the one we now have to win,” Kreis had stated after a 1-Zero loss to Mexico within the group stage finale.
The make-or-break sport performed out beneath a scorching solar in Guadalajara, Mexico, the place the temperature was 90 levels at kickoff. The sport paused for hydration breaks in every half.
The Individuals tried to take management early, and produced two good scoring possibilities. However as Honduras held agency and settled in, the Individuals appeared to run in need of power and concepts. Honduras took the lead 4 minutes into first-half damage time, with a protracted, inch-perfect cross-field move headed expertly into the trail of a charging Obregón within the aim mouth. Utilizing his thigh, after which his hip, he clumsily muscled it over the road previous Ochoa in aim.
Honduras doubled its lead lower than three minutes into the second half when Ochoa — beneath dutiful however minimal strain — drove a move off ahead Luis Palma that ricocheted into his personal web. Scrambling to his ft, Ochoa rapidly fished the ball out of his web, however the Individuals’ day out of the blue had taken on a grim aura.
Midfielder Jackson Yueill, america captain, received a aim again within the 52nd minute with a rocketed shot from simply outdoors the circle atop the Honduran penalty space. And Jonathan Lewis had three wonderful possibilities to tie the rating — one on a header cleared off the road, one other misplaced to a mystery foul spotted by the Salvadoran referee — as the stress constructed and the time ticked away. However the targets america wanted by no means arrived.
The 2 video games in Mexico on Sunday accomplished the 16-team Olympic males’s subject, which already consists of groups like host Japan; Brazil (the gold medalist at residence in 2016) and Argentina from South America; France, Germany, Romania and Spain from Europe; Egypt, South Africa and Ivory Coast from Africa; Australia, Saudi Arabia and South Korea from Asia; and New Zealand from Oceania.
The Olympic males’s event has been an under-23 championship since 1992, an lodging with FIFA, the game’s world governing physique, to take care of the primacy of the World Cup as the game’s showcase occasion. (The ladies’s Olympic event is, just like the Ladies’s World Cup, contested by senior nationwide groups.)
Nevertheless it stays an essential barometer of a rustic’s potential to provide younger expertise, and for a regional pressure like america, which was nonetheless reckoning with its senior nationwide staff’s beautiful failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, lacking out time and again had change into a referendum on the nation’s soccer progress.
As soon as a daily within the males’s occasion, america final appeared in it on the 2008 Beijing Summer season Video games, when it gained solely its opening sport towards Japan, tumbled out after the group stage and completed ninth. However quickly, lacking the Olympics troublingly grew to become the norm. The Individuals, who had did not qualify for the 2004 Athens Video games, then missed out on each the London Olympics in 2012 and the Rio Video games in 2016.
U.S. Soccer made reversing that latest historical past a precedence this 12 months. It employed Kreis, a veteran of a number of head teaching jobs in Main League Soccer, to steer the staff, and tried to take full benefit of among the expertise produced by the league’s latest funding in participant growth. All 11 United States starters on Sunday play for groups in M.L.S.
The Individuals beat Costa Rica (1-0) and the Dominican Republic (4-0) of their first two video games, however an errant move led to a first-half aim — and a 1-Zero defeat — towards Mexico of their group-stage finale. The defeat was a blow to america staff’s momentum, and maybe to its psyche, because it represented the primary massive check of the occasion, however Kreis moved rapidly to dismiss it and switch his staff’s focus to the semifinal.
“I feel we’ve been trying to find just a little extra sharpness on this complete event,” Kreis stated after the loss. However the one factor that mattered, he added, was not that consequence however that “crucial sport is coming.”
It got here on Sunday. And the Individuals misplaced it.