The United States, for the third consecutive time, will watch other teams compete in men’s football at the Summer Olympics. The USMNT U-23s, with a spot in the Olympics on the line, put on an uninspiring performance in a 2-1 loss to Honduras in the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Championship semifinals.
USA: 20-David Ochoa, 3-Henry Kessler, 4-Justen Glad, 6-Jackson Yueill (capt.), 7-Jonathan Lewis (16-Johnny Cardoso 88’), 8-Djordje Mihailovic (10-Sebastian Saucedo 46’), 9-Jesus Ferreira, 13-Sam Vines, 15-Andres Perea (19-Sebastian Soto 62’), 17-Aaron Herrera, 18-Hassani Dotson (11-Tanner Tessmann 72’)
Unused Substitutes: 1-JT Marcinkowski, 2-Julian Araujo, 5-Mauricio Pineda, 12-Matt Freese, 14-Benji Michel,
HON: 1-Alex Güity, 2-Denil Maldonado, 3-Wesly Decas, 5-Cristopher Melendez, 7-Jose Reyes, 8-Edwin Rodriguez, 9-Juan Carlos Obregón (19-Douglas Martinez 80’), 10-Rigoberto Rivas (6-Jonathan Núñez 71’), 13-Luis Palma (17-Josê Pinto 80’), 14-Joseph Rosales (11-Darixon Vuelto 85’), 16-Jose Antonio Garcia
Unused Substitutes: 4-Carlos Melendez, 12-Michael Perelló, 15-Kervin Arriaga, 18-Enrique Facussé, 20-Carlos Argueta
In a very hot match, with the thermometer reading 90 degrees at kickoff, the game started off very conservatively. Neither team was willing to throw the first punch, with a lot of listless play. The first chance for either side came in the 5th minute, where Honduras forced David Ochoa to make an incredible point blank save, but Honduras was also whistled for offside on the play.
The first serious chance for the U.S. came in the 12th minute, with Hassani Dotson driving forward down the right flank and firing a low cross across the box. Jonathan Lewis was not able to get his foot on the ball well as he kicked the shot well wide. Neither team wanted to give much. Honduras was caught offside a few times with their counter attacks, but both teams had a conservative approach through the first 40 minutes. There wasn’t a lot of creativity inside the attacking third of the field, which meant there weren’t many scoring chances for the United States.
Honduras got the scoring started in the 4th minute of first half stoppage time. Off a broken play, the U.S. defense let players get behind them on a long cross. Denil Maldonado sent a flying header across the goal, and David Ochoa gets the save on the shot from Juan Carlos Obregon. However, the rebound bounces off Ochoa and then Obregon as it gets into the goal to make it 1-0 Honduras on the stroke of halftime.
The U.S. came out flat to start the second half, and an error by David Ochoa early on became costly. On a pass back in the 47th minute, Ochoa hesitated on his clearance, and Luis Palma stuck his foot out to clip the pass back on a ricochet into the goal to make it 2-0.
After that goal, the U.S. looked out of it, but a beam of hope came just a few minutes later. Jackson Yueill received the ball just across midfield in the 52nd minute with some space, took a couple dribbles, cut in and then launched a golazo from about 25 yards into the top left corner of the net to make it 2-1 Honduras.
The U.S. played much better after the Yueill goal, trying to keep the ball in the attacking third and kept pushing for a goal. Just a couple minutes after the goal, the U.S. earned a free kick after Jonathan Lewis was fouled. Sebastian Saucedo sent a cross on the set piece that was headed out to Yueill, who tried it again from 30 yards. This shot went well above the net. In the 67th minute, Lewis was once again tripped up on the edge of the box for a free kick. Yueill sent a low, bouncing free kick that was saved by the keeper out of bounds for a corner kick.
Still, despite a few more chances, it wasn’t enough for the Americans. Honduras did their best to waste time throughout the second half and slow up play, but the chances the Americans had weren’t good enough. The final whistle blew, and the U-23s were out of the Olympics. Honduras qualifies for the Olympics for the 4th straight time in men’s football.
The U.S. will try once again to qualify for the 2024 Olympics, set to take place in Paris. The 2028 Olympics are in Los Angeles, so the U.S. will automatically qualify as hosts for that tournament. Still, the clock restarts for U.S. Soccer to figure out what went wrong in Guadalajara.