Advertisement
Share

U.S. men’s soccer fails to qualify for Olympics — again — with loss to Honduras

U.S. player Sebastian Soto reacts after the U.S. failed to qualify for the Olympics following a 2-1 loss to Honduras.
U.S. player Sebastian Soto reacts after the U.S. failed to qualify for the Olympics following a 2-1 loss to Honduras in the semifinals of the CONCACAF pre-Olympic tournament Sunday.
(Fernando Llano / Associated Press)

Three times in the lead-up to the last three Olympics, the U.S. went into its final match of qualifying needing just one goal to keep alive its hopes of playing in the Summer Games.

And for the third time the U.S. came up one-goal short Sunday, losing to Honduras 2-1 in a chippy, physical semifinal of the CONCACAF pre-Olympic competition on a 90-degree afternoon in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The win sends Honduras to the Olympics for a fourth straight time, while the Americans, who haven’t played in the men’s tournament since 2008, must wait three years for another chance.

“We’re devastated. Absolutely devastated,” U.S. coach Jason Kreis said. “We all wanted this so badly for so many different reasons. Sometimes when you want it too bad, you put yourself in a position where you can’t perform at the level needed.

Advertisement

“At the end of the day I just don’t think we had enough.”

Mexico will also be going to Tokyo after beating Canada 2-0 in Sunday’s other semifinal. The first of Mexico’s second-half scores came from former Galaxy winger Uriel Antuna.

×

Highlights from Honduras’ 2-1 victory over the United States in a CONCACAF pre-Olympic qualifying tournament on Sunday.

The Americans were done in by some of their own this time, with Brooklyn, N.Y.-born Juan Carlos Obregón, who played college and pro soccer in the U.S., and Luis Enrique Palma, who once played for Real Salt Lake’s USL affiliate, scoring for Honduras. Both goals bounced in off goalkeeper David Ochoa, putting the U.S. in a deep hole less than two minutes into the second half.

Advertisement

Jackson Yueill halved the deficit in the 52nd minute with a right-footed strike from distance and the U.S. nearly pulled even 10 minutes after that, but Jonathan Lewis’ header from the center of the box was cleared off the line by Wesly Decas.

Honduras opened the scoring four minutes into first-half stoppage time. The sequence started with Edwin Rodríguez opening up the U.S. back line with a long ball to Denil Maldonado deep in the penalty area. Maldonado’s diving header deflected the ball in front of the goal for Obregón, who nudged it off Ochoa’s midsection and into the net.

Palma doubled the lead less than two minutes into the second half on a huge gaffe by Ochoa, who played with Palma on the USL’s Real Monarchs. After taking a back pass from defender Aaron Herrera, the U.S. keeper took his time trying to send the ball back upfield, only to see Palma stick his left foot in the way of Ochoa’s lazy clearance, deflecting it into the goal.

After the final whistle, Palma rushed to Ochoa and tried to console his former teammate as the rest of the Honduran team celebrated at the other end of the field.

Advertisement

“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a game where we’ve had players mis-control the ball so much,” Kreis said. “Balls rolling under people’s feet, passing out of bounds. You just kind of scratch your head.

“The commitment level was there. The guys ran hard and fought and tried to get themselves in the right spot. It’s just when we really needed the quality, when we really needed difference makers, I don’t think it was there tonight.”

The U.S. men’s national team had a new look while extending its unbeaten streak to nine games with a 2-1 win against Northern Ireland in a friendly.

“The commitment level was there. The guys ran hard and fought and tried to get themselves in the right spot. It’s just when we really needed the quality, when we really needed difference makers, I don’t think it was there tonight.”


Advertisement