The United States failed to qualify for the Olympic men’s soccer tournament on Sunday, falling to Honduras, 2-1, in a regional qualifying tournament in Mexico. A goalkeeping mistake that proved to be the difference, but the feeling was all too familiar, as the time expired. Their neighbor and rival Mexico, qualified again wining 2-0 against a young Canada, the other host for the 2026 World Cup. “ After todays match, I do consider us being a better team, but we did our part to win the objective and well the US has a lot of work to get done.” Jesus Angulo said.
The defeat was a humbling end to yet another Olympic qualifying campaign for the United States young men, and it means the Americans will miss their third straight Olympics. A United States Men's team last appeared in the Games in 2008, and now has failed to qualify for the Olympics. Goals by Honduras on either side of halftime — a bundled finish by the Brooklyn-born Forward, Juan Carlos Obregón Jr. in first-half stopped time and a deflected goal as a horrifying mistake by goalkeeper David Ochoa minutes into the second half and sent the Hondurans to their fourth straight Olympics. Honduras finished fourth in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, losing to the eventual champion, Brazil, in the semifinals.
“I think we’ve been searching for a little more sharpness in this whole tournament,” Kreis
The Americans beat Costa Rica (1-0) and the Dominican Republic (4-0) in their first two games, but a naïve pass led to a first-half goal — and a 1-0 defeat — against Mexico in their group-stage finale. The defeat was a blow to the United States team’s momentum, and perhaps to its psyche, as it represented the first big test of the event, but Kreis moved quickly to dismiss it and turn his team’s focus to the semifinal. “I think we’ve been searching for a little more sharpness in this whole tournament,” Kreis said after the loss. But the only thing that mattered, he added, was not that result but that “the most important game is coming.” It came on Sunday. And the Americans lost it.
Unlike most tournaments, the Olympic qualifying event is all about the semifinals. In CONCACAF, the region that includes teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean, only the two semifinal winners advance to Tokyo, making victory in one of those matches the goal and rendering the final on Tuesday — Honduras will play the winner of the second semifinal between Mexico — an afterthought. United States Coach Jason Kreis and his team had Sunday’s game — whatever the opponent — on their minds all week. “Ultimately, we know the next game is the one we have to win,” Kreis had said after a 1-0 loss to Mexico in the group stage finale. The make-or-break game played out under a scorching sun in Guadalajara, Mexico, where the temperature was 90 degrees at kickoff. The game paused for hydration breaks in each half. And without a VAR it is possible to say that US was unlucky today.
But the pressure remains on the country’s ability to produce young talent, and for a force like the United States, which is still unfortunate, with its senior national team’s stunning failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, missing out again and again has this become a tradition for the nation’s soccer progress.
And on the other hand Mexico qualifies easily, with similar keeper mistakes and awaits a strong Honduras who has been also very successful in this under-23 category, on March 30, at 6pm in Mexico the final will be held. “ I feel calm about todays match and the performance of the boys, this is a huge accomplishment as a coach and for the players, I do visualize of course wining and being in the Podium, like in London, 2012, but also looking forward to playing Honduras this Tuesday a group of warriors, who defeated the USA. ”
The Olympic men’s tournament has been an u23 championship since 1992, an accommodation with FIFA, the sport’s global governing body, to maintain the primacy of the World Cup as the sport’s showcase event.
U.S. Soccer will still have a representative in Tokyo: Its world champion women’s team qualified last year and will be a favorite to claim its fifth gold medal in the sport when the Olympics open in July. American men’s teams have played in the Olympics four times but have never won a medal