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Former Under-23 players exorcise Olympic qualifying demons with USMNT rout of El Salvador


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BALTIMORE — The U.S. Men’s National Team’s impressive rout of El Salvador on Sunday did not just serve as a way for the Americans to punch their tickets to Gold Cup semifinals.

It was also a source of redemption and a way to finally turn the page on one of the most grim moments in recent U.S. Soccer history.

The United States’ 5-1 quarterfinals victory over El Salvador at M&T Bank Stadium served as a payback of sorts for several Americans who were acutely aware of the fact that El Salvador’s Under-23 team had knocked out the U.S. from Olympic qualifying in March 2012 with a 94th-minute goal from Jaime Alas.

No, the two teams that played on Sunday afternoon were not anywhere near identical to the ones that tied, 3-3, in Nashville 16 months ago. Far from it actually. But there were starters from both those youth sides on the field for their respective full national teams, and others on the bench, in Baltimore, and that was enough to make the win over El Salvador just a little sweeter for the Americans.

“It means a lot,” said midfielder Mix Diskerud, who started in that U-23 game and scored the final goal on Sunday. “We were talking about it yesterday and the day before that and we wanted our revenge and we got it, so it feels a little extra good.”

Two other U.S. players (midfielders Joe Corona and Brek Shea) that saw time on Sunday took part in that forgettable U-23 game and two more were on the bench (goalkeepers Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson). But it was more than just those up-and-coming players that felt the U.S. needed to exact some revenge for that fateful night in the Music City.

“One of the motivations for us going into the game was they knocked our Olympic team out of Olympic qualifiers,” said veteran forward Eddie Johnson, who scored the Americans’ third goal 14 seconds after stepping onto the field as a second-half substitute. “We kind of wanted to use that motivation as far as revenge and go out there and really put them on our terms and really take the game to them.”

“We actually did talk about the U-23 game, because a lot of those players played against the U-23s and we wanted to send a message out to them,” said DaMarcus Beasley. “They got one on us that day but today was a different story. We wanted to implement our game from the start, make sure that they knew they’re going to be in a game, a real quarterfinal match.”

The U.S. did that early on during Sunday’s humid match thanks in part to Corona and Diskerud. The two youngsters helped the American midfield dominate possession and create a number of dangerous scoring chances before Corona netted the U.S.’s second with a solid strike in the 29th minute.

Shea then came off the bench to deliver a strong second-half cameo and Diskerud tallied his goal in the 84th minute, heading home a Landon Donovan cross to put an exclamation point on a dominant outing that in many ways makes up for that shocking 3-3 draw in Nashville that left the U.S. out of the Olympics.

“(Alas) plays for my team in Rosenborg and he reminds me every single week on YouTube, he shows me the goal” said Diskerud. “Maybe this time, he’ll not do it as much.”

Even if he does, Diskerud can always point to Sunday’s 5-1 victory.


  1. The senior game was not pivotal vis a vis the U23 match. Corona scored in both games, and Shea, Mixx (1 goal senior), and Boyd (2 goals U23) were in either the U23 or senior contests. That the U23 offense was pretty good is no real surprise and they are progressing into the senior side.

    The problem with the U23s was always defense, in that ES game it scored 3 but allowed 3. Tellingly, veteran Nick Rimando was in the net this time, not either of the U23 fumblefingers. Nor were Villafana, Sarkodie, or Opara anywhere near the senior side, even though the defense remains something of a soft spot. That the former U23 offense is in there scoring on ES senior but the defensive players can’t even get a callup or off the pine very much, tells you what you need to know……the offense had nothing to be ashamed about… was defense and coaching.

  2. Sounds like Alas is doing some good-natured ribbing. Imagine if you played on a team with someone from Spain, wouldn’t you pull up the Confederations Cup game all of the time?

    • I had a classmate from Spain during the time of the Confed Cup. I had a presentation two days after the win. I slipped a few pictures in there. She still hasn’t forgiven me, according to her husband.

  3. I am quickly becoming a Mix Diskerud fan, was impressed with his gutsy performance yesterday. Despite his slight frame, he is not afraid to mix it up with the big boys and really adds a nice dimension to the attack. He also is solid defensively. Am hoping to see him start again against Honduras with Corona on his right.

    • Which is the funny thing about Mixx. The knock on him was that he was to scary(soft) to go in there and mix it up in the midfield. ( no pun intended)

  4. I remember watching a live stream of that game. I had to get up early the next day so I went to bed upset at half. I believe the score was 2-1 El Salvador at half? The next morning I saw we drew and i quickly watched the highlights and my heart broke. I am a soccer fanatic but I am also an Olympic fanatic and I was crushed to see my country would not represent my favorite sport in the Olympics. But tonight was a great win and I hope we can take home the championship this year!

  5. I was at the El Salvador match in Nashville also. Never before had I experienced such a gut wrenching sports moment in person. I vividly remember the players lying prostrate on the field after the final whistle, and how quiet the US fans were when it all happened. I threw my drink at (not in) the trash can, and could not believe what I had just witnessed. For the first time in a long time, I felt like the players on the field owed me something. It was even worse that Brek Shea, my favorite MLS player at the time, was 99% responsible for allowing that to happen.

    Thank goodness we got a small taste of revenge today, though it’s not nearly as sweet as if they had experienced the same last-minute punch to the gut like we did. But hey, I’ll take 5-1 over 3-3 any day.

    Though I wish Brek had tallied 1 for the Yanks today, I am satisfied enough that he was on the field to be a part of the victory, somewhat ‘paying back’ the fans he let down so bad in Nashville.

    • It was bad enough on TV, I would have hated to have been there. However, the goalie Sean Johnson also bears quite a bit of responsibility since it was a shot he could have and should have at least parried to the side. Just a heart wrenching finish. Not only the players, but I think the coach Caleb Porter learned a lot and are better for it, though.

  6. I attended that game in Nashville. Heart-wrenching moment. Everyone thought USA had it, then that late, (really late) goal. US fans stood stunned for a moment and then filed silently out of LP Field. Meanwhile, the Salvadoran fans sang and danced inside the stadium well after the final whistle. I heard them still through my car’s windows and drowning out my radio while caught in traffic trying to leave. Sobering night that was.

    Needless to say, I enjoyed today’s game much more . . . drunk with victory.

    • I was there too (also from Memphis btw, member of Memphis AOs; you too?) and it was just an awful feeling. Tonight provided much vindication. Feels d*mn good to be a USA fan right now. Flying high boys

    • I was there too and man did it suck. I drove up from B’ham for the Canada game and couldn’t go back after that poor performance so I stayed a few extra nights…I was gutted after that game so I can’t imagine what the players felt like.

      Glad Mix and Corona got a goal today!!!! Great for both of them!!!!!!

    • Another attendee. My wife was so upset when the ball went by Sean Johnson that she ran out of the stadium and was halfway across the bridge on her way back to the hotel before I finally caught up with her. No way was she going to stay to watch the Salvadorans celebrate.

  7. Feelin a 3-1 win vs Honduras. And I’m sure alas won’t mind the game too much considering he wasn’t on gold cup squad at all


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