Skip to content

Starting the autopsy: the U.S. men’s Olympic dream ends

Mar 26, 2012, 11:43 PM EDT

us soccer

There is so very much to talk about after the United States’ crushing, last-minute elimination Monday from Olympic soccer. The longer-term “this” and bigger picture “that” must be addressed following the latest qualifying clunker at a sub-national team level. Surely there will be reckonings, and hopefully a thoughtful plan of how to make things better.

The short-term issues are all more stark and biting, fresh wounds of the moment:

The roster wasn’t good enough. The coaching wasn’t good enough. The leadership and problem solving fell short.

Heck, even the choice of venues from U.S. Soccer proved imprudent. (How nice would it have been for the United States, given the opportunity to choose its facilities, to have a packed, smaller house absolutely coming apart at the end, urging and helping the home team to grind out the last few exhausting minutes? We’ll never know; tens of thousands of empty seats is no recipe for whipping up a “stirring cauldron.”)

Nonetheless, it was thrilling and breathless, El Salvador’s 3-3 draw at LP Field. El Salvador moves into Saturday’s semifinals, and credit to the small Central American side for prolonging its own Olympic dream through a night of gritty belief.

For the United States, Olympic soccer from London in the summer of 2012 will be a TV event.  Here are some things to initially consider from Monday’s heart-breaker.

  • El Salvador was quicker, smarter and more committed over the telling first half, taking a well-deserved 2-1 lead into the break. Why? U.S. manager Caleb Porter and his men will need to answer that one. With so much on the line, the U.S. seemed content to “pretty” its way through the game initially – while the Salvadorans gave the home side a lesson in desire.
  • The best U.S. spell: Between the 60th and about the 90th minute, when the desperation finally kicked in, proving once again that a U.S. side backed into a corner is a U.S. side at its best.
  • Leadership and experience were sorely missing in the end, when U.S. players went diving emotionally into tackles at the telling moment. Rather than managing the final Salvadoran attack through shape and balance, American haste at winning the ball created the gaps that permitted the shot … that Sean Johnson bobbled so costly.
  • The American goalkeeping situation was shockingly poor. Five goals against in two matches, with at least two the product of mismanaged back-stopping. Bill Hamid’s meek moment led to a crushing goal against Canada. But Johnson’s fumbled effort in the dying seconds Monday was equally inept. These two, remember, have been in Jurgen Klinsmann’s full national team camp. We all expected better.
  • Playing three matches in five days is an absurd schedule; both teams looked spent toward the end Monday. So you have to wonder why Porter left two substitutions on the bench until it was almost too late? The Americans were dying for fresh legs.
  • The United States defense was a mess from the start of the qualifying tournament, and never got any better. Not once in the tournament did center back Ike Opara look up for the job.
Latest Posts
  1. 2015 Gold Cup predictions: Can the USMNT win back-to-back titles? Here’s our picks…

    Jul 7, 2015, 3:45 PM EDT

    Championship - 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Getty Images

    PST’s staff predict how the Gold Cup will play out as the USA, Mexico and Costa Rica clash to become CONCACAF champs.

  2. 2015 Gold Cup: USMNT player profiles – Forwards

    Jul 7, 2015, 3:05 PM EDT

    England v USA: Group C - 2010 FIFA World Cup Getty Images

    Altidore and Dempsey will lead the attack. But who else is in reserve?

  3. Where does Andrea Pirlo joining New York City FC rank in history of MLS mega-deals?

    Jul 7, 2015, 2:35 PM EDT

    Is he in the top five of superstars to join North America’s top-flight since the DP rule was introduced?

  4. 2015 Gold Cup: USMNT player profiles – Midfielders

    Jul 7, 2015, 1:59 PM EDT

    Mix Diskerud, USMNT Mix Diskerud, USMNT

    Will Yedlin start on the right? Have Bradley and Mix got the center locked down?

  5. Reflecting on Michael Bradley from 1-99, as he hits 100 USMNT caps vs. Honduras

    Jul 7, 2015, 1:10 PM EDT

    Michael Bradley, USMNT Getty Images

    A man who’ll go down as one of the USMNT’s all-time greats hits 100 caps tonight. A few thoughts on Il Generale.

  6. Gold Cup Today: USMNT face Honduras, Panama vs. Haiti kick things off – Day 1

    Jul 7, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT

    Honduras v United States Getty Images

    Day 1 of the 2015 Gold Cup is here, as the U.S. starts its title defense with a showdown in Texas.

  7. 2015 Gold Cup: USMNT player profiles – Defenders

    Jul 7, 2015, 11:20 AM EDT

    Ghana v USA: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Getty Images

    The center back pairing is the big conundrum heading into the Gold Cup. Here’s a look at the eight defenders.

  8. 2015 Gold Cup: USMNT player profiles – Goalkeepers

    Jul 7, 2015, 10:29 AM EDT

    United States Training Session Getty Images

    Who will be the starter for Klinsmann in July?

  9. Transfer Rumor Roundup: Darmian to Manchester United, Clasie to Southampton

    Jul 7, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Malta v Italy - EURO 2016 Qualifier Getty Images

    As PL teams continue to return to preseason, more moves are taking shape. Here’s the latest gossip.

  10. Micronesia concede 114 times in three games, hammered 46-0 by Vanuatu

    Jul 7, 2015, 8:35 AM EDT

    Source: @vanuafoot Source: @vanuafoot

    Three heavy defeats in four days at the Pacific Games for Micronesia, as Vanuatu’s Jean Kaltack scored 16 times in one game. One game.

  11. Chelsea and Tottenham to battle for Wembley Stadium as temporary home

    Jul 7, 2015, 8:01 AM EDT

    Aerial Views Of The London 2012 Olympic Venues Getty Images

    Blues eyeing up England’s national stadium for three seasons, but so are Spurs.

  12. Manchester City signs Turkish teen sensation Enes Unal

    Jul 6, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT

    Chikhura Sachkhere Vs Bursaspor Getty Images

    The youngest ever player to score in Turkey’s Super Lig will now try to find the back of the net at the Etihad.

  13. 2015 Gold Cup: With the rest of CONCACAF making strides, this is USMNT’s chance to show they are, too

    Jul 6, 2015, 10:14 PM EDT

    Jurgen Klinsmann, USMNT Getty Images

    While the rest of CONCACAF closes the gap on the USA and Mexico, it’s time for the USMNT to show they’re still improving, too.

  14. New York City mayor could give USWNT ticker tape parade in Manhattan

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:56 PM EDT

    United States AP

    Are Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd the next athletes to be seen parading down the Canyon of Heroes?

  15. Study names Raheem Sterling most valuable young player in Europe

    Jul 6, 2015, 9:12 PM EDT

    Liverpool v Newcastle United - Premier League Getty Images

    The only question is, who’s willing to pay the price?

  16. After Women’s World Cup triumph, Wambach, Ellis face questions about 2016 Olympics

    Jul 6, 2015, 8:17 PM EDT

    150706-Wambach-Ellis Getty Images

    Will Abby Wambach play at the 2016 Olympics in Rio? She hasn’t yet said.

  17. Real Madrid rejects FC Porto bid for Iker Casillas

    Jul 6, 2015, 7:20 PM EDT

    Real Madrid CF v Getafe CF - La Liga Getty Images

    The goalkeeper’s agent has said Casillas would like a move to Portugal, but Real is playing hardball.

  18. 2015 Copa America: Champions Chile dominate Team of the Tournament

    Jul 6, 2015, 6:26 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwnjyju2ntc3mgexowfjytvhodjkzgu5ytbhmtc3ywqw AP

    In the world of South American football, everything is coming up Chile.

  19. Etienne Capoue joins Watford for club record transfer fee

    Jul 6, 2015, 5:31 PM EDT

    FBL-EUR-C3-TOTTENHAM-ASTERAS TRIPOLIS Getty Images

    After a failed spell at Tottenham, the French midfielder is now a Hornet.

  20. 2015 Gold Cup preview: United States look to defend title

    Jul 6, 2015, 4:37 PM EDT

    Championship - 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup Getty Images

    The Gold Cup kicks off tomorrow as Jurgen Klinsmann and the USMNT look to repeat as champions of CONCACAF.

Featured video

PST Extra: Done deals & transfer gossip