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USA U-23s out of Olympic contention after draw with El Salvador

USA U23s lose (Reuters)


The U.S. Under-23 men's national team's Olympic dream is over before it ever really got started.

A late blunder by substitute goalkeeper Sean Johnson in the final minute of stoppage time erased a heroic comeback from the United States, as El Salvador knocked Caleb Porter's side out of Olympic qualifying with a 3-3 draw at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. on Monday night. 

The Americans clawed their way back from a 2-1 deficit with two unanswered in the second half, but that was not enough to secure advancement to the all-important semifinals match as Johnson failed to cleanly block a Jaime Alas shot in the 95th minute of the Group A finale.

Making matters worse for the United States was that a win over El Salvador would have won the Americans the group after already-eliminated Cuba pulled out an improbable 1-1 draw versus Canada through a late goal in the first game of the doubleheader.

Still, the United States got off to a dream start in the dramatic and chippy game, with Terrence Boyd scoring on a volleyed effort in the first minute off a cross from Brek Shea.

Things then turned sour as Lester Blanco and Andres Flores each scored for the visitors in a span of three minutes towards the end of the first half.

Blanco scored first with a header off a corner kick in the 35th minute, and that was followed up with a finish from Flores two minutes later. Both goals came against starting goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who was replaced by Johnson in the 39th minute after picking up an injury just before the goals.

Needing a win to secure advancement, the U.S. team rallied in the second half after fading in the opening 45 minutes. Captain Freddy Adu delivered assists to Boyd and midfielder Joe Corona in a four-minute stretch, giving the United States the result they needed to advance.

Boyd scored his second goal of the game when he got on the end of a through ball from Adu and finished to the near post in the 65th minute. Corona scored his fourth goal of the tournament three minutes later, nodding home a right-footed cross from Adu.

Leading 3-2, the United States was on the brink of winning Group A and advancing to the semifinals before Alas made a dribbling run across the field and unleashed a thunderous shot. Johnson parried the shot but did not get enough of it to prevent it from bouncing into the back of the net, resulting in El Salvador's advancement and the U.S. team's demise.


What do you make of the United States' 3-3 draw with El Salvador and their elimination from qualifying for the Olympics? What do you think was ultimately the demise of the Americans? Do you want to see Porter get the boot?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. that’s how I feel. It would have been a great summer watching US soccer in the Olympics. I am utterly disgusted. Mental preparation wasn’t their. they looked superior at times and just complete break downs. I really have to wonder if Bradly was the coach with all that talent.

  2. Ummm…. overreact much?

    The USMNT is on a 4 game winning streak. That includes two wins in Europe, one against Italy (who went undefeated in the lead up to Euro 2012).

    We have dozens of players in and outside of MLS excelling on a weekly basis.

    The past group of U17s did make the WC.

    The current U17s just won that invitational in Florida, beating Brazil in the process.

    Yeah, it does suck that the U23s made such an early exit. Especially on a last second goalie error. Let’s be honest though…we knew the defense was shaky coming into the tournament. Several of our midfielders showed very well and will crack the senior team. Many other U23s were not available for selection or were injured. Don’t forget the fact that ES should have had 2 straight reds in a span of 30 seconds as well. Even if we don’t make the Olympics, this group still made Mexico’s U23s look silly, and Mexico won’t get a chance to get revenge.

    The sky isn’t falling… it just seemed like it last night.

  3. And if the whistle blows after the 94th minute like it should have, you are probably praising Caleb and not calling for his head

  4. Who should replace him then? Canada game was an outright disaster yes. El Salvador, he put his team in position to win. Two goals were caused by goal keeping blunders, thats not of Caleb, thats on the goal keepers themselves. The responsibility is on the players as much as Caleb. If Caleb is to be fired then Brek Shea, Bill Hamid, and S. Johnson should all be removed from the National Team pool, after all, they were the ones who made major errors that has nothing to do with coaching…

  5. 1. it was the US Soccer media and fans that put that crown on him initially, not his doing. 2. He will still be a great coach and most likely one involved at the national level in some aspect. The Canada game and first half of El Salvador was a disaster, but outside of that he did well. In fact, two of the El Salvador goals were due to bad goal keeping, Even the best coaches in the world suffer from goal keeping blunders. See Sir Alex and DeGea. We can play the blame game or we can rebound from this and get stronger

  6. We can complain about poor decisions on the coaching side, and who should or should not have been subbed. But it boils down to this, Those players on the field have high career aspirations, they were on the field for a reason, Shea has to be smart and Johnson has to make a routine save. Simple. Porter did not turn the ball over by trying to dribble, and he did not make a huge goal keeping mistake. He adjust at half time and put the team in position to win. Those are professional players and they have to be prepared to come through in big moments, and they did not. Simple.

  7. Shea not booting it out wasn’t the problem. He tried to keep possession by leading Boyd. We got the ball back after that only to have Okugo give it right back. It wasn’t like Brek was deep in his own end. He’s near midfield and we have possession so theres nothing wrong with trying to keep possession. If someone is at fault on them getting the ball and then getting a free shot its Okugo for passing the ball straight to their best player, not chasing him down and the back line just standing on their heels and not jumping out on the guy.

  8. Now that the initial anger has worn off and I can look at things with more perspective, I think this will be a very good learning experience for these guys. Having said that, Porter still needs to be fired. Playing in the US, against inferior opposition, with a team of pros who have had time to train together, should have played considerably better, and since we can’t fire the players, the coach has to go. If this tournament was held in another country, then maybe you can justify the loss.

    I think Porter will make a fine MLS manager someday, and who knows, maybe he’ll manage the USMNT or get a job in Europe, but for now he needs to be sent back to Akron due to the results, or lack thereof, that the team generated.

    And kudos to ES, I hope they make it to the Olympics as it’s great story for that team and their country. They played with a lot of heart and determination and they deserved to advance…

  9. Agreed…best comment I ever saw on futbol was that unlike most other sports, ‘any given sunday’ doesn’t apply. Sometimes, for whatever reason, a team that has the best possession, most shots on goal, completely dominates their opponent can still lose.

  10. You mean Mexican teams have been invited to the Champions League for 90+ years…and this is the first i’ve heard of it????

    Let’s not talk about how long Mexico has been playing futbol…..let’s see, that would be…yep, as long as the US has been playing futbol. It’s just none of your professional leauges has been able to survive during most of that 90. That’s not Mexico’s fault.

  11. I agree they should be sanctioned but I don’t agree with your rationale. You primarily want them sanctioned because the US lost and want some sort of revenge. They should be sanctioned because of their actions, end of story. Fairplay.

  12. yeah, it was a thug move. and i agree that it should have been the ARs call as the main ref was watching the ball ahead of him. BUT, as the main ref, i will put blame on him for his AR’s actions (or lack thereof).

    i really hope he is suspended for at least one game.

  13. Yep, I’m sure the ref would’ve handed out a red card if he had seen it. Unfortunately, none of the refs saw it, they were still watching the ball play. I know FIFA is against replays…but what about the Olympics?

  14. That punch was a repellent scumbag move not just on a sporting level but as a man that kid should be ashamed of his actions.

    But if the ref didn’t see it he didn’t see it. It was off ball so it should have been the AR’s call, and though it was blatant maybe he just didn’t catch it. Its a big miss but it happens.

    What should happen though is that someone reviews that tape and suspends the El Salvadoran kid for the rest of the tournament and possibly the Olympics if they make it that far. Truly cowardly and disgraceful behavior.

  15. Exactly. Even the midfield seemed panicked at critical times. Too many giveaways in the midfield at critical times. Some more calm on the ball would’ve been essential once we were up and ES was pressing.

    The last goal was a microcosm of all the flaws with this team- panicked giveaway by I think Okugo in the midfield when he had plenty of time, poor defensive awareness and positioning to not close the down the man, goalkeeping error lets in the shot.

  16. This is a very disappointing result, no questions about that. But let’s not overreact and compare this team to Rongen’s group. Other than one lackluster game against Canada, this team has played some of the most exciting positive soccer that US youth teams have ever played. Including the “friendly” game against Mexico, this team scored 11 goals in 3 games – almost 3 goals/per game and dominated possession against all the opponents. These are young players, who will continue to develop. What doomed this team was not the overall lack of quality, but several defensive errors and some bad luck (like the bounce on the long distance hopeful shot that tied the game against Salvador). I would rather see our young guys to not to be afraid to take risks and play the right way without making the Olympics, than to play like Canada did – keeping 11 men behind the ball and defend, defend, defend and hope to score of a counter or a set piece. I am very disappointed in the result, but I hope that we don’t ignore the overall quality of this team’s play. Young players can learn from this and get better. I hope that USSF does not have a knee-jerk reaction and fire Porter based on one disappointing tournament.

  17. Too funny! What happened to the next soccer coaching God? Porter the annointed one? College is much different thatn Olympic level. Not same as Akron beatuing up Western

    Western Ohio College or someo hot-bed of American soccer.

    Look for Porter to be a bit more earth-bound by realities.

  18. The curse of Teal Bunbury is what I will call it. He should have never come to rep USA he should have played for Canada, we unnecessarily took a player away from them and now are cursed.

  19. Fire Porter. That’s how the sport works, people. If a guy is brought in for a major international tournament and doesn’t even qualify for it; he’s done. Porter should resign, really. This U-23 team has more professionals with more experience than any other I can remember, but went in reverse with the results against Canada and El Salvador. Thanks, Caleb, but there’s the door.

  20. WE LOST?????????????????????????!!!!!!!

    Oh dear Chr#st above. Did anyone DVR the game like me????? If you did, the recording ended in the 93rd minute. HOLY #$%@#%#%#. I went to bed thinking we won. Oh no. I turn on my blackberry in the train station this morning and this headline was like a punch to my babymaker. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

  21. tim…. this is a results orientated business. Read over your post. He lost… he failed to make the proper adjustments before the game and during the game.

    Will he learn from this? absolutely. Will he coach at this level sometime in the future? absolutely. But right now, he didn’t get the job done. period. Someone else’s turn to coach.

  22. Mix played well vs. Cuba and was inconsistent at best the next 2 games. Always seemed to fade to me but had some good stretches for sure

  23. USA normally has a good defense. However, once you take out the initial starters, we lack depth. Its not Porters fault that Chandler, Williams and Morales were unavailable. Had we qualified for the Olympics you would have seen a whole different set of defenders and goalkeeper.

  24. last few years? the World Cup was in 2010 and included as exciting a goal as the USMNT has ever scored.

    but yes, since then disappointments, but it’s not even 2 years yet

    no reason to overblow this, but it does suck


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