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U.S. U-23s fail to secure automatic Olympic berth in shutout loss to Honduras

U-23 Honduras USMNT Olympic qualifying

photo by Jeff Swinger/USA Today Sports


Saturday has not gotten off to a good start for U.S. Soccer.

The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team failed to secure an automatic berth to the 2016 Olympics, falling, 2-0, to Honduras in the semifinals of CONCACAF Olympic qualifying on Saturday afternoon. The Americans gave up goals to Alberth Elis on each side of halftime, and struggled to break down Honduras’ no-nonsense defense in a match that got progressively heated.

Both teams finished the game at a mostly-empty Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, without their head coaches. U.S. manager Andi Herzog and Honduras boss Jorge Luis Pinto were dismissed simultaneously midway through the second half for apparent altercations with the fourth official.

The Americans can still qualify for the Olympics in Brazil next year, but will have to win the Olympic qualifying’s third-place game to then meet Colombia in a decisive play-off.

The U.S. had a late goal in the match incorrectly disallowed for offside. Jordan Morris tapped in a shot from a yard out in the 83rd minute, but it was called back despite replays showing clearly that Morris was onside when the ball was played to him.

That was one of very few chances the Americans created in the defeat, however, as they settled for long balls for much of the 90 minutes. Honduras, meanwhile, came out better in possession, looking more dangerous in the attack, and defending with physicality and booming clearances.

Pinto’s gameplan allowed the Catrachos to find a first-half winner in the 23rd minute when a ball from the right was clipped into the penalty area. Allowed space to maneuver, Elis received the pass, evaded centerback Cameron Carter-Vickers’ challenge, and fired a low shot to the far corner past goalkeeper Ethan Horvath.

Elis struck again on a counterattack in the 77th minute, finishing well with a one-timed looping effort to the far corner after some individual brilliance from teammate Kevin Lopez on the right flank.

The Americans, whose senior national team will play later on Saturday in the CONCACAF Cup vs. Mexico, did not create their first scoring chance until the 41st minute. Jerome Kiesewetter fired a hard shot from a tight angle on the play, but Honduras goalkeeper Luis Lopez covered the near post well and made the stop.

Lopez the netminder also preserved his team’s lead with an eye-popping flying save in the 65th minute. Carter-Vickers got on the end of a corner kick from the left and nodded it on frame, but Lopez went full stretch to paw the effort away.

Frustrations mounted for the U.S. after that and tempers flared for both teams. Aside from Herzog and Pinto getting tossed, the Americans and Hondurans had multiple skirmishes that halted play.

Ultimately, Honduras held on for the win to punch its ticket to the Olympics.

The U.S. will now face the loser of the qualifying tournament’s other semifinals match between Mexico and Canada in a third-place game on Tuesday at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Americans will have to win that match, and then defeat Colombia in a play-off in order to reach Rio 2016.


What do you think about the U-23 USMNT’s 2-0 loss to Honduras? How disappointed are you with the performance? Still confident that the Americans will reach the Olympics?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. The same MLS and homegrown thing are producing gems for other Countries in Central America and the Caribbean. There are players in the MLS who can make a difference but have not received a chance by JK. Those who have are given miniscule playing time.

  2. Time to start whining about soccer in the US. We have been stagnant for the last 20 years. Kick and run kick and run. MLS has just Produced a larger pool of mediocre players. The Homegrown thing isn’t working because we don’t have enough coaches that put technical ability above physical ability

    • You have no idea how far we have come because you have no idea how bad things were about 30 or even 40 tears ago. I do. We have mad HUGE strides in football in this country. The problem we are facing is that we did not make good choices in that we failed to separate the Technical Director role from the Head coaching role giving both roles to a single person Mistake that have filtered down through the Youth levels Right now people are realizing that the person we picked to get the US to the “Next Level” , ie a Youth World Cup or a high finish in the World Cup is NOT the person we have now.

  3. Thanks slowleftarm. I guess its either the USA players lack heart, direction or leadership. Some how I think a good Coach/Manager would account for those deficiencies.

  4. Gary Page, they played like a Team should. Do remember how clumsy Alexi Lalas and Eddie Pope were when they came to the Men’s Team? The Coaches made a difference with their developement that made Alexi and Balboa a very effective Team. Individually they sucked but collectively they were good. Research the Honduran Team and tell me how many of them play in Europe.

    • Disagree. Eddie Pope was class on our level. I do agree Pope failed with Gooch pairing, both players lack collective understanding, in 2006.

  5. Yep, Sunil Gulati. He wanted JK because BB was not his boy. Now I hope both of them will find a whole to crawl into. I’ll volunteer to cover the hole. What amazes me is the inability of the men’s coaches to make changes during a Tournament that have some positive impact. During the Women’s WC a lot of pundits felt the Team would not make it to the finals because of the product on the field. Jill made adjustment which resulted in a different style and type of play. They destroyed every Team that came up against them. From day one Giorgio Chinaglia(God bless his soul), said JK was the wrong hire and a big mistake. I’ve said time and again the the JK Era will represent a stagnation to the development of US soccer. These Teams win inspite of JK and his influence.

      • No, it will be sooner. Gulati will be on the hot seat for Klinsmann as much as Klinsmann is.The LAST great chance for Klinsmann and redemption is next week and U17 WC in Chile, should the US not get out of it;s group, or not even get to the semi’s it will be considered a failure, as this group is considered the best since 99 with Landon Donovan, Beasly etc. Certainly three major failures in as many weeks will do JK no good. But Gulati may have his own pickle with FIFA, If it can be found that Gulati knew of the misdeed and corruption of his counterparts at FIFA,and did nothing he well could be in legal and maybe criminal jeopardy. And I know there are several on the USSF Board that will play for his seat in the USSF should that be an issue.

        This may come sooner than most expect.

    • who? gulati sunil? I always wondered how Blazer got away with everything he did under gulati watch, dude should have step down.

      • Sunil Gulati is a tool. He’s a “suit”. He had an opportunity to address the a House subcommittee on the scandal, and instead sent Sgt Shultz “I know nothing…nothing….” And I’m sure he skipped because had he been sworn in he would have had to say the USSF knew about and turned a blind-eye to the shenanigans and rampant corruption going on in CONCACAF and FIFA during Gulati’s time as USSF Chairman and FIFA Ecomm member.

        We kind of need an Alan Rothenberg kind of leader. When he learned that Lothar Osiander did not play the most gifted striker the US had seen to this time, Steve Snow, who scored a huge majority of the US goals in qualifying for the 92 Olympic Games in Barcelona, against the US’s first opponent, Italy, he heavily criticized Osiander in the Spanish Press. He waited until he put back in Snow for the next 2 games in which the US won and tied, but failed to make the knock out rounds, but Osiander, who was a typical German Coach and required a high amount of obedience to his plans but he had Snow was headstrong and talented but extremely talented. In fact the Italian coach who had watched US games had prepared the team to defend him and lo and behold, no Snow. Rothenberg waited until the US’s last game was over, walked into the US dressing room, and with his best Trump persona. told Osiander, “your fired” in front of the whole US team I am pretty sure he would have fired Klinsmann for leaving off Donovan, but then again Rothenberg swore he would never hire a German coach again.

  6. David M, Klinsmann chose the Coaching Staff for the Olympics. He had input and advised the Coaches in charge of the Olympics Team. He is the root cause of the problem. He talks a good game but neither he nor the individuals he has surrounded himself with have the ability to take the Teams to a higher level. The difference between the USA and these Teams that are beating us is coaching and preparation. If you compared each position today, the USA has a clear advantage on the field. But with poor preparation and coaching, the end result will always be the same.

    • I agree that Klinsmann shares the blame with Herzog, but what about Sunil Gulati? Out part-time chief has to be answerable to SOMETHING.

    • I have no idea where the Honduran players play, but they certainly played better at most every position than the US did, so I don’t see how you can make a blanket statement that the US players on the field were better for each position.

  7. The USDA master plan is working beautifully. Cut 95% of prospects out of the NT loop and keep doing the same things we’ve been doing with the remaining 5%
    Never mind not qualifying, with our aging stars getting close to retirement it doesn’t seem to be anybody ready to replace them. Germany and other countries can only do so much for us, and it’s not that our system is broken, we don’t even have one to speak of.

      • For starters, stop trying to make soccer such an elitist sport. It works for other sports that rest of the world doesn’t play but it’ll never work for soccer. As it stands right now the USDA is not drawing from the best, It’s drawing from the best of the richest that happen to live in a very limited geographical area.
        Involve the schools, The have a budget, fields and coaches. Kicking them out of the loop instead of helping them do a better job reduced the player pool to almost nothing. It’s a numbers game and we’re starting to see the results of cutting the numbers so drastically. If nothing else the sheer number of players the high schools coaches reached made their player development as good if not better than we’re seeing today.

      • He does have a point. No one can identify which 16 year-olds will be professional soccer players when they are 26. An occasional prodigy can be spotted, but many suffer the fate of Freddy Adu, the Dempseys are rare. That means you must cast a wide net and high school sports is about as wide as you can go for teenagers. I do not know about the rest of the country, but the average high school coach in NJ is better now than 15 years ago. Most of those coaches would be willing to follow the advice of the US National coaching staff and they could become better and more consistent in their approach.

        Right now the Academy teams select players, mostly who come to them from rich suburban parents. The poor kid from Trenton is an anomoly. There are a lot more kids who lack the parents who have the time, money and energy to do all that is necessary to get their kids into the relatively few good academy programs. But nearly all kids can afford to play high school soccer.

        If only it were a 3 season sport or at least a much longer season. Of course that would take getting the attention of 50 different state high school associations and for the states to do something positive for soccer.

        But it is something to think about.

  8. Our record in youth competitions is poor lately. Historically, we have won every CONCACAF tournament – U-17, U-20, U-23, Gold Cup, WCQ. In the WC and major tournaments, we have achieved 4th place in U-17,U-20 WCS, the olympics, and QF at the WC in 2002. Not bad.

    Since Klinsmann entered the fray, with all of his promises, we have yet to reach our past achievements in major tournaments. Moreover, other than the 2011 U-17 WCQ, (1st) we haven’t reached our past achievements in CONCACAF.


    2011 U-17 CONCACAF -1st
    2011 U-17 WC – second in group after Uzbekistan, whalloped 4-0 by Germany in the quarterfinals
    2011 U-20 CONCACAF – quarterfinals (did not qualify for WC)
    2011 Gold Cup – 2nd
    2012 U-23 CONCACAF – did not qualify for Olympics
    2013 U-17 CONCACAF – quarterfinals (did not qualify for WC)
    2013 U-20 CONCACAF – 2nd
    2013 U-20 WC – did not get out of group
    2013 Gold Cup – 1st
    2015 U-17 CONCACAF – barely qualified for WC (4th place)
    2015 U-20 CONCACAF – tied 3rd place with Honduras
    2015 U-20 WC – quarterfinals
    2015 Gold Cup – 4th place
    2015 U-23 CONCACAF – out in the quarterfinals (maybe 3rd)
    2015 CONCACAF cup – we’ll see (I have tickets!)

    • You’re as bad at checking facts at Leander S. Qualifying for U20 was in March. Guess who was still in charge then? His initials aren’t JK.

  9. There is a simple solution to all the problems. Klinsmann has to be put in charge of all soccer-related matters in this country, including USSF presidency.

  10. To late now, but why Hyndman is not played centrally is beyond me. Imo he might have been a better link to the final third. Playing guys out of position has become exhausting to watch

  11. I didn’t see the game but based on information provided by individuals who did it seems like it comes back to poor preparation by the Coaching Staff. The Team needed to be prepared differently for the semifinals than for the Group Stage. This means personnel and tactics. It also appears the Coaching Staff were unable to make any adjustment during the game. The USA has the players to advance to the Olympics but its the structure behind the players that’s lacking.

  12. For those who didn’t see all 4 games, we didn’t play much differently today.
    No possession in the middle or final 3rd
    Didn’t string many passes
    Almost no creativity and poor spacing
    Route 1, Route 1, & Route 1
    The difference today was:
    We looked flat, toothless, slow, heartless… u name it
    Everyone looked around like they were waiting for someone else to step up
    Morris and Kes got almost no delivery, and when they did it was terrible-or they fell down
    CCV had his worst game in the uniform

    • Personally I’m not going be too hard on CCV. He is 18 after all. The fact that we don’t have a Centerback more established that’s 21-23 is the real problem.

      • Totally agree, he’s the youngest out there and way ahead of his time.
        Point being, with the poor passing and lack of possession in the midfield, CCV and Miazga had to be perfect. Just because it was his worst outing didn’t make him the worst player

      • We have Shane ONeill who has done well at CD and was captaining the U23s. We had a lot of U20s in this group so that may explain this failure and them getting knocked off the ball so much

    • This is really a failure of the US coaching system. If you recall we had an open training camp for collegiate player about 2 months ago. WTF. When you are scrounging for U23 players that late, it means you have some player personnel slots you are still looking to fill This late?? While it’s true we may have had some players over in Europe who were refused to be released, the fact that we would have to depend on them to qualify means there is something that needs fixing. While Herzog was a good player,his time coaching the Austria U21 was mediocre and he was let go. We could do a lot better than Herzog or Caleb Porter. But the buck stops at the top, the guy who chose him and the guy who chose the guy who chose him. But as long as Gulati protects “die Zecke” the longer we will put up with mediocre results. While the appointments of Tab Ramos and Richie Williams are promising, we can add Herzog, Vasquez, and Porter to growing line of bad coaches, and bad results.

      Few on this board know we were thoroughly embarrassed by our U20 8-1 loss to Germany this week. The coach was an Iranian-american whom I’ve never heard of and has very little coaching experience. We bounced back wih a 2-2 draw against Scotland who have a weak u20 team. Where are we going? If there are those out there who think “die Zecke” is doing a bad job at coaching, but a good job as Technical Director, then keep drinking that kool-aide

      • Tab Ramos and Richie Williams are promising, are you serious. They are terrible. But this is coming from the same person who said that the USMNT has players that are capable of winning a WC. What are you drinking.

      • I will stand by my words, but the US does NOT have a coach right now capable of leading the team to a World Cup victory or even any further than the quarters. I started playing soccer in 1966 and have seen the evolution of the sport, And what I see is all the ingredients EXCEPT.good coaching. The best coach the US ever had, whom I got to meet one day, purely by accident, and eventually a very good friend, was in 1974 where USSF hired Dettmer Cramer, who had just finished coaching Egypt for 2 years. He told me that the US had superb athletes but no coaching,But he also said that if we got more good footballers we could win the World Cup in 2 (or 4-5 cycles as he said) decades, he was realistic but optimistic. Unfortunately the USSF gave him absolutely no support. He was in LA at the time to look for a place for a training camp, and of course he was trying to do everything himself. He coached the US in two games, both losses, and then the Bundesliga came calling, He left early in 1975 after about 6 months, but that very same year he brought Bayern Munich the European Champions Cup, and did it AGAIN the next year. Detti was also the assistant coach for the West German team when they lost to England in the 1966 World Cup. I always thought “What could have been?” had the US been prepared. The president of the USSF was not prepared to spend the money then to advance US soccer and I never figured out how the hell they got him. We ended up talking for over 8 hours during the three days he was in LA and learned so much in those 8 hours about coaching and football. Over the years we kept in touch and in ’82 while in Germany I looked him up, he remembered me and I was invited to check out his team at the time and to attend a Beyer Leverkusen game. It was the last time he coached in the Bundesliga. I again saw him in 2006 at he World Cup. I brought him a whole suitcase of Western souvenirs including an 100 year Apache Indian headdress.He was a huge fan of the Old West. His wife wrote back to me saying it was his prize possession and he even took down one of his football trophies to put it on display. We talked some more especially about the USMNT, he said the US was within one game of going all the way, to the finals thought Bruce Arena was a good coach, could spot talent but was tactically naive. thought we got jobbed in 2002 by the ref against Germany, and said that the US could probably get 10 more footballers from the academies and teams in Germany as so many great athletes in Germany at the time (in soccer and other sports besides soccer) had US Army fathers. I spent the day with him and his wife and we talked about cycling, the Tour de France and a lot of football.

        Sadly it was the last time I would see him, we continued to correspond and every year a phone call. I was his American football friend and I called him “Herr Professor” a name given to him by the press and players because of his small stature his balding head and glasses and wore bow ties, he looked very scholarly. He was tough as nails and was a German Officer and Paratrooper in WW2. He really liked America and visited me once in Arizona in ’98

        Sadly. “Ditte” passed away last month at the age of 90.I got a letter from his wife telling me of his pasing and sid one of his wished was to donate the Indian Headdress to a Western Museum in Bavaria.

        So for your question on what i’m drinking. It will be a Kircherl German snapps to salute Detti. And most likely you’ll be swillin’ that kool-aide the press and pundits feed you every day.

      • How has no one else responded to or acknowledged this comment? Is this a brilliant fabrication or a credible account? Thank you for taking the time to write such a fantastical piece pertaining to the current state of the U23 team

      • In another post, you assert that the Indian headdress is 150 years old; which is it? 100 or 150?

        I agree though – I have a keen eye for effective coaching, and since the JK regime has come in we’ve seen poor coaching infect the US Soccer programs from top to bottom, with the exception of the women’s teams. These guys may know football, but they are not tactically nuanced coaches.

  13. Not surprised at all. The U.S. played the same way they did all tourney. This time they ran into a higher quality, tougher side that laid in wait to thwart our predictable easy to counter “tactics.

    Double Morris at all times, watch for the ball over the top. Know whatcha gonna do? …………….. crickets……………. Nada.

    It’s a one off match to go to the Olympics. You know the opponent will have studied your tendncies- be ready for you. A manager has to ask- what would I do if I were playing us? Then be ready to respond. Best be ready for more of the same from the next and then the next opponent if they get that far. Guarunteed they will have studied this match’s recipe.

    • I think the US was hurt by being in an easy group. they could get away with mistakes and sloppy play in the group, but it did them in in the semifinals. I don’t think they were ready mentally for this strong an opponent.

  14. Totally gutted. Are the US players, senior and junior included, really as good as we think they are? Honduras showed they were the better team today. Looks like the rest of Concacaf has caught up with the US and Mexico on all levels.

    • At least MX federation tries to correct failures and mistakes, and invest more on their men teams, while USSF continues path over and over.

      Note: Donovan retire…no one can replace Donovan. Dempsey is almost at retirement… who’s going replace Dempsey?

      • The way it goes it looks like Dempsey will have to continue to play until he’s 60. Donovan will have to unretire too.

    • Mexico keeps dominating CONCACAF at youth levels, if they win against Canada and later against Honduras in the final they would be the current champions of CONCACAF in every category.

      • Remember what happen in 2000 and 2001. MX youth teams failed to qualified to anything, but MX federation fired coaches and re-invest at more youth level.

        Also, MX is better league than MLS with more freedom teams expend and invest on their youth system with Argie coaches or other Internationals managers

      • then we should imitate them, I honestly get jelly when I see that their youth teams are always full of Liga MX players and they actually do great at the youth level. My biggest fear is for us to become a Premier League light with barely any young americans developed home.

      • I know what you mean. I rather MLS copy Ligue 1 than EPL.

        Early 2000’s youth talent in MLS was good like: Donovan, Beasley, Eddie Johnson, Quaranta, Convey, Marshall, Mapp etc…

      • Exactly, MLS may be better now but it is mostly thanks to foreign stars, the NT is going to suffer as more and more foreigners come to the league from countries with superior youth development, we either have to change our system ASAP or beg for MLS to make a rule that forces teams to field X number of American young players for X minutes like Liga MX did.

      • MLS has plenty of very capable young players. The issue is not that there isn’t any talent but that JK refuses to look at them. He is far too busy beating the bushes for his next dual national, lower division German league player than in developing any talent here. Since that won’t change, the USA needs a coach who’s priory is developing our domestic players, not one that shuns them

      • Nope, I read a story on this on goal, it was until they fail to qualify to the olympics with hugo sanchez that they invested more in youth system so around 2009 or 2010. So it took a few failure at the youth levels to get their act together.

    • That was commonly said about the generation that failed to qualify in 2011. Good to see that Klinsmann, as promised, has brought a consistent style of play to the whole system.

      • LMAO and part 2 will be played in a couple of hours. With Klinsmann’s top to bottom control, he has to share the blame in every level’s failure to secure designated objectives. The Olympics are in jeopardy again.

        When will USSF realize we are going nowhere?

    • Yes. Lack holding the ball, no distributors, players Polster and CCV made tons defensive mistakes, Morris and Kiesewetter had no support or passes for attack, in first half. And second half, same mistakes with our “boys” behaving like thugs.

    • I would add that the US got out wrestled off the ball too often, bad passes and some costly turn overs (the US was lucky they didn’t give up one or two more goals because of bad turn overs in midfield) and some poor decision making when on the attack. Also, delivery on dead balls was usually pretty poor (we had quite a few corners). The first Honduras goal was also pretty poor defense by the back line, leaving a forward in the middle of the 18 yard box pretty much unmarked. US was also stymied by a tremendous save by the Honduras GK on a headed ball and Morris was called offside on a goal that maybe should have counted (they showed replay in real time, not slow mo, so i couldn’t be sure, but he looked like he was onside when the ball was delivered).

  15. Weird substitutions in the 2nd half. Pulled the best distributors in Hyndman and Gil. Played even better into Honduras game plan as the USA became even more predictable.

    • Actually, it was the correct subs. What good is a distributor that only circulates the ball and gets run over by stronger faster opponents? The correct starting LM was Ariyibi, hands down. Gil is not a big game player, Hernandez was the correct call but it should have been made from the beginning.

  16. The bottom line is that for most of the game Honduras was better. And what’s with Salt Lake City? Almost nobody there and most were Honduras fans.

      • This, people can complain all they want, but this soccer won’t take off untill more Anglo-Americans and African-Americans get behind it.

      • This, what difference does their race make? Not sure of your point…especially if you consider USWNT which their is plenty of support (regardless of race).

      • I read on twitter that tickets averaged $75…. which is CRIMINALLY high. It doesn’t matter where that game is – Salt Lake, Kansas City, New York, LA – not a lot of people are going to pay $75 to watch a U-23 game. The most expensive seats at such a game should run about $40, and you should be able to get in at about $15. I’m quite sure Salt Lake would have done just fine if they had set reasonable prices (NOTE: I’m a midwesterner with no connection to SLC).

  17. USA is a poor side, mostly long balls and hope. Doesn’t work when you’re not winning either the first or second ball. It appears that many of the USA players just don’t get enough minutes, anywhere. Their skill level is definitely below Honduras. One young sub, Aloshe’s (spelling my fault) touch and tackling was so bad he’d get pulled from an U-12 game. Serna was outclassed all day long. For some reason nobody in the side with a couple exceptions looks strong in the tackle. Hopefully they won’t go to Rio and embarrass everybody.

    • My working theory is that we are suffering the fate of the second tier but mature soccer nation, not so first tier good that any set of pros we throw together can win, but sufficiently mature our players are now being signed and developed by pro teams from teen ages and not colleges or Bradenton.

      I say this because when they are at colleges or Bradenton they are the focus and they get all the playing time they need. It is an inferior place to develop but a superior place to get playing time, which helps both development and having the team gel for tournaments. Where before when we might have sent collegians and a few pros, and they could camp together a while, it’s now stealing time from pro teams that release for short periods. So we get the professional environment but over 18 I think the age group teams suffer for lack of cohesion and regular playing time.

    • This set of players, despite their quality, should be ashamed of their performance. I hope they carry that shame for the rest of their careers (although US fans don’t really put pressure on their players).


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