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. MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 3-0 Chivas USA

    Jul 26, 2014, 12:01 AM EDT

    Colorado Rapids v Philadelphia Union Getty Images

    Two goals in the first half hour allowed the Rapids to cruise at DSG Park.

  2. Fraizer Campbell gives Tony Pulis a new option at Crystal Palace

    Jul 25, 2014, 10:35 PM EDT

    FBL-ENG-PR-NORWICH-CARDIFF

    The 26-year-old will try to improve an attack that averaged fewer than one goal per game last season.

  3. Omar Gonzalez targeting Monday return to LA Galaxy’s defense

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:11 PM EDT

    Gonzalez Getty Images

    Gonzalez resumed full training on Friday with the hope of starting in Seattle.

  4. Everton willing to set club transfer record to bring Lukaku back

    Jul 25, 2014, 8:32 PM EDT

    Lukaku Getty Images

    Roberto Martínez is ready to spend close to $35 million to secure the 21-year-old’s return.

  5. Arsenal on the verge of signing Calum Chambers from Southampton

    Jul 25, 2014, 7:44 PM EDT

    calum_chambers Getty Images

    Medical with Gunners and fee agreement has Chambers on the verge of departing for North London.

  6. Knee injury will keep Lallana out of Liverpool’s Premier League opener

    Jul 25, 2014, 6:48 PM EDT

    www.liverpoolfc.com www.liverpoolfc.com

    LCL injury could sideline former Southampton star for six weeks.

  7. Houston acquires Honduran international Luis Garrido on loan from Olimpia

    Jul 25, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT

    luis_garrido AP

    23-year-old brings another ball-winner to the Dynamo midfield.

  8. Bebé done at Manchester United; Portuguese attacker joins Benfica

    Jul 25, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT

    ManchesterUnited

    One of Alex Ferguson’s most notorious transfers has found a new home with Benfica.

  9. Dutch left back Patrick van Aanholt moves from Chelsea to Sunderland

    Jul 25, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    patrick van aanholt

    Five years of development by the Blues ends with the 23-year-old’s departure.

  10. A quick guide to who’s come and gone from Premier League teams

    Jul 25, 2014, 3:11 PM EDT

    Brazil Soccer WCup Brazil Chile AP

    From Sanchez and Luiz to Suarez and Sidwell, a breakdown of the top names to have come and gone from the Premier League.

  11. Saints exodus continues with Lovren medical at Liverpool

    Jul 25, 2014, 1:39 PM EDT

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Things are looking dicey at Southampton, where yet another player is set to skip town.

  12. Didier Drogba has officially rejoined Jose Mourinho at Chelsea

    Jul 25, 2014, 12:51 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 12.42.00 PM

    A one-year move and mutual respect between the coach and player could make this a relatively-shrewd move for the Blues.

  13. Revs send DP on loan to Argentina, prepping for incoming attackers

    Jul 25, 2014, 12:09 PM EDT

    Houston Dynamo v New England Revolution Getty Images

    Jerry Bengston is going on loan to Belgrano, while New England president Brian Bilello is working on a number of attacking options.

  14. Who is Houston’s new World Cup mid? Reports say it’s this Honduran

    Jul 25, 2014, 11:24 AM EDT

    Honduras v Ecuador: Group E - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Getty Images

    Dynamo president Chris Canetti made waves when he said the team would be adding to the DaMarcus Beasley signing soon with a World Cup starter.

  15. Maradona blasts Argentina team, says Messi was better when he was boss

    Jul 25, 2014, 11:11 AM EDT

    BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 21: Diego Maradona looks on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group F match between Argentina and Iran at Estadio Mineirao on June 21, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Getty Images

    World Cup final, so what? Diego Maradona is not pleased with the way his nation played in Brazil.

  16. ‘Hacked’ video shows that French defender to City move is all but done

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:55 AM EDT

    France Training & Press Conference - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Getty Images

    Barring something wild, young Eliaquim Mangala is taking his French national team talent to Manchester.

  17. FIFA says World Cup will stay in Russia, “can achieve positive change”

    Jul 25, 2014, 9:05 AM EDT

    FBL-WC2022-FIFA-QATAR-LABOUR-SLAVERY-UNIONS Getty Images

    It can be the soccer tournament that changes Russia forever (so implies FIFA)

  18. Arturo Vidal may not stay at Juve; Shuts door on Manchester United

    Jul 25, 2014, 7:57 AM EDT

    FBL-ITA-SERIE A- JUVENTUS-PALERMO-SCUDETTO Getty Images

    The 27-year-old Chilean is very much in demand, but also happy at a Champions League club.

  19. MLS Snapshot: Real Salt Lake 3-1 Montréal Impact

    Jul 25, 2014, 1:21 AM EDT

    Olmes Garcia

    Olmes Garcia’s second half double lifted RSL.