Top Stories

U-23 USMNT eliminated from Olympic qualifying after rally falls short vs. Honduras


The Under-23 U.S. Men’s National Team’s wait to return to the Olympics will extend to at least 16 years after the latest disappointing failure in qualifying.

.The U-23 USMNT saw its hopes of playing in this year’s summer games go up in a cloud of smoke on Sunday via a 2-1 Concacaf Olympic Qualifying semifinals loss to Honduras. The Americans tried to rally back from a two-goal deficit at Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico, but a Jackson Yueill bomb from distance in the second half was as close as they got.

The loss eliminated the USMNT from qualifying, marking the third straight cycle the team has failed to reach the summer games. The Americans last qualified for the 2008 Olympics.

Honduras, meanwhile, punched its ticket to the international tournament for the fourth consecutive time. The Hondurans also knocked the USMNT out in the semifinals of the last qualifying campaign in 2015.

Making it all the more difficult to swallow for Jason Kreis’s side was that the winner came off a blunder from David Ochoa. The USMNT goalkeeper took too much time on the ball in the face of a high press in the 47th minute, and his attempted pass was deflected into his net by Honduras’ Luis Palma.

The goal followed an opener that came in the fourth and final minute of first-half stoppage time, as Honduran striker Juan Carlos Obregon bundled an effort home following a headed assist from Denil Maldonado after the second ball on a free kick.

A minute after Jose Reyes missed a glorious chance to make it 3-0 for los catrachos, the Americans cut the deficit in half with Yueill’s blast from distance in the 52nd. The USMNT captain picked up the ball from around 25 yards out and capitalized on the time and space allowed by unleashing a potent blast to the top left corner.

Yueill came close to authoring an equalizer in the 69th on a bending low free kick, but Honduras goalkeeper Alex Guity got down quick to push the effort wide.

Jonathan Lewis also had a pair of looks to tie the game, first with a 62nd-minute header that was nodded clear by Honduran left back Wesly Decas and then with a golden opportunity in the 83rd that he mis-hit from inside the six-yard box.

In addition to heading to Japan, Honduras moves onto the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying final on Tuesday. The Central American nation will play tournament hose Mexico, which beat Canada by a 2-0 mark in Sunday’s later semifinal bout.


  1. Even with the semi-mediocre squad, we still should have won. Lewis was gifted two chances, and wasted another with a half chance shot wide rather than square it to an open player, and Johnny had a free header. We played poorly until we were down 2-0, and only then did we have any sense of urgency. As Holden kept saying in the first half, we were too slow. Maybe it was the heat, attempting to conserve energy, or what but we were completely flat. We never should conceded that goal, although proper replay would have disallowed it for handball, that late in the half.

    • how on earth are you ending up kicking the ball away from goal with your outside foot with that gift wrapped ball across and no one on you? it was so awkward it is hard to wrap your mind around how it transpired. “he did what?”

      not sure why he did it either because the left foot is the one you’re drill to use on that particular pass and the inside of the foot is the same spin effect if you’re trying to bend it around the keeper but inside the post….

      • Lewis has no left foot. He whiffed 2 shots with his left in the 1st half. He is even less productive when he is on the right side. IV, I know you think, because he’s a professional, he supposed to be ambidextrous, but he isn’t. Pineda & Benji aren’t either. No shame. Maybe Lewis develops that part of his game, but I’ve seen him make those type of mistakes when he’s tired. Ref doesn’t call a foul on him and we equalize, I still would say the same. If he doesn’t have that energy, at the beginning of a match on the right side, you have to sit him.

  2. This whole Episode is embarrassing… The most embarrassing part is the lack of effort, tactical awareness and just piss poor coaching. The roster selections were pretty bad in the first place but couple that with worse coaching (a lack of any coherent identity on how to move the ball into the fun third) sheesh!

    Wasn’t this team together for at least two weeks? They had absolutely no pattern in the play or build up … no way to work the ball out of pressure situations… No midfield cohesion in the least bit… The outcome is so predictable

  3. I didn’t give this team a shot of making it to the semi-finals, given the strength of the US roster. It is a positive sign when our best U-23s are instead playing for the senior team rather than the Olympics. One couldn’t see where the goals were going to come from on this roster.

    Given the heavy schedule leading to WCQ in September, we will need to field 2 squads this summer. Keep in mind this was a young team, with a few teenagers on the squad. I would guess a few of the players with some future potential for the senior team will be selected for the Gold Cup.

    • I think the good news is GB had uttered some gibberish about his best U23s being in tokyo even if they could help the senior team, and that’s gone now. i’d anticipate GB using the first team for Nations League and quali, and the experiments at Gold Cup, but this means Gold Cup will have the age eligible players not being rested.

  4. It’s sad. I’m pissed.I’m not shocked. I said it before- Kreis was a very uninspired pick- he is MLS circa 2010. His player selections were poor- no creators, no one with an eye for goal. The only dynamic player picked was Llanez- his going down was a big blow. Kreis’ adjustments in game and game to game weren’t there either. Nothing happened in the previous matches inspired confidence- lead me to believe we had this- that is for sure.

    In the end though- it is probably a blessing in disguise with the very packed schedule this summer. We’d likely have had to send a similar C squad and been embarassed.

  5. Focus too much size and speed, and not much technical player or creative players, add mediocre coach. no Clark or Bello?

    • don’t know about Caden Clark, but Bello, along with Miles Robinson and another age eligible Atl United player weren’t released because of the upcoming CCL matches smfh….Ebobbisee should have been here but I don’t think he was fully recovered from his injuries(head)at the end of the MLS season, but suffice to say this is an utter embarrassment no matter who wasn’t released!

      • Clark and Busio are most skilled and tech players and won’t be in MLS long. Kreis with USSF could communicated with MLS teams importance of Olympics as “showcase” MLS players for future transfers,some players to regain their form and grab new fans, instead becoming mockery thanks to USSF and Bocanegra.

  6. The US play was sloppy. There were too many poor passes and uncontrolled balls. Quite a bit of that was made worse by the failure of players to make good runs without the ball or to take up better spots to help the team.

    • minus most of the kids who either signed out of an academy or transferred to europe…the difference is honduras’ kids see U23 as the ticket out…

  7. Question are there any players on this team that should get a call to the senior team? My opinion is there maybe two and sorry about spelling if I get them wrong: Jackson Huell and Mihilovic. No one else stood out to me. Maybe Ochoa until he pretty much passed the ball to a Honduran player to his right when it seemed he had an American player wide open in front of him in the middle of the field.

    • that’s easily solveable. plenty of good youth keepers wish they were field players and try it a little until they give up a goal getting cute with their feet, then get yelled at. it’s usually drummed out of kids at that age as opposed to encouraged on up to senior level, particularly after you ship goals doing it.

      so you just tell him whack it downfield and you fix that problem and have the shot stopper left.

      • like Karius in the UCL final? Allison gaffes from back there although still brilliant. That’s just GKs from one team in the past 3 years. Never has so much been asked from GKs imo

      • Seem to remember Kasey Keller banging one off of Carlos Hermosillo’s head and back into our goal. Think it was a WC Qualifier, maybe 1997. It happens, hopefully the kid (Ochoa) learns from it and grows as a player as a result. Up until then, he was pretty impressive.

      • you’re confusing “it happens” with “it routinely happens.” like every game our keepers have a nervous moment or two and every x number games we lose a goal doing it. as a defender, keepers do have to routinely deal with backpasses, but you’re inviting different pressure by almost egging the opposition to come after you, and then removing the usual safety valve of dealing with the pressure by bombing it out to pluto when a breakdown occurs.

        i also just don’t even see the point of some of the balls we play nearly square across the backline other than to egg the defense forward. i personally like to gain ground with what i am doing and think it’s kind of arrogant and harder work to play short square balls to start the play and then you have to build the whole 110 yards up the field. i get we’re trying to make them come out of their shell and chase but often enough it’s getting stripped and shoved down our throats.

  8. It felt like I was watching the senior team from 2-3 years ago. Piss poor passing, zero movement, gapping midfield space for opposition to counter into, no linking, poor touch, no idea where to go with the ball before receiving it, tactics that just want to pass around the back and wings and then cross but couldn’t even get to the cross part because we’d lose possession too often. Night and day to the current senior team in what I’ve seen since Wales thru today. Felt like watching a couple bottom dweller MLS clubs and we were the really bad one.

  9. Definitely sad. But look at the bright side. I’d rather Reyna, Adams, McKennzie, Musah, Aaronson, Richards, Cannon, Reynolds and Pulisic play for the MNT rather than the Olympic team. However, got to think if Dike, Richards, Aaronson, Cannon or Reynolds were on the Olympic team that may have been the difference.

    • i agree, personally i think the whole point to the age group exercise is to feed the senior team, so it has done its job. i just think our empire building and tactical inflexibility is showing up when we get right to the edge each time but don’t make it. that suggests a steady marginal talent level playing each time straight to its level with little coaching boost. we obviously need to be more defensive or aggressive at this semi stage.

  10. Hard to judge individual players since our U-23 program has long been terrible. The first time around I was disappointed. Now I’m just annoyed by the ineptitude displayed year after year. I’m not expecting greatness but if you can’t even draw against Honduras you have some serious problems to address.

    • i think there is a paradox where the senior coach adores club form but with our availability issues you might do better to cynically aim for MLS players and people struggling in their european careers. i know the pandemic got in the way but the consistent results suggest maybe spend more time drilling a particular unit as opposed to wasting a bunch of U23 games on players you can’t get.

      i mean, this is who we started out playing u23:
      GOALKEEPERS (2): Jonathan Klinsmann (Hertha BSC/GER; Newport Beach, Calif.), JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes; Alamo, Calif.)

      DEFENDERS (9): Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy; Lompac, Calif.), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City/WAL; Southend-on-Sea, England), Marco Farfan (Portland Timbers; Portland, Ore.), Jack Maher (Indiana; Caseyville, Ill.), Matthew Olosunde (Manchester United/ENG; Trenton, N.J.), Donovan Pines (D.C. United; Clarksville, Md.), Lucas Pos (FC Lausanne-Sport/SUI; Irvine, Calif.), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic/ENG; Milton Keyes, England), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United FC; Arlington, Mass.)

      MIDFIELDERS (6): Derrick Jones (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Penn.), Cameron Lindley (Orlando City SC; Carmel, Ind.), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire; Lemont, Ill.), Keaton Parks (New York City FC; Plano, Texas), Eryk Williamson (Portland Timbers; Alexandria, Va.), Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; St. Paul, Minn.)

      FORWARDS (6): Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers; Bethesda, Md.), Josh Perez (LAFC; La Habra, Calif.), Emmanuel Sabbi (Hobro IK/DEN; Columbus, Ohio), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; O’Fallon, MO), Tim Weah (Celtic FC/SCO; Rosedale, N.Y.), Haji Wright (Schalke/GER; Los Angeles, Calif.)

      so you either tell yourself this worked out as a senior development team — and i am not against favoring senior graduation — or we need to do a better job guessing who we could really be able to play come qualifying.

      • you’re missing my point. that list was the call sheet for U23 the first camp back in march 2019. players may have been with different teams then, yes. but my point is that when we had several matches preparing for this event we ended up spending many on players since graduated to the senior team, or who disappeared, or who ended up playing for another country. my point is how few of the ultimate roster were involved when the prep work began. and my argument is what is the point of a bunch of weah-type players in u23 camp — who you will never get released — if you are actually trying to gel a squad so they look better than they did. now, i personally think you could use the U23s as a de facto “B” team to call a second set of near future senior players, but that will be at the expense of actually preparing the olympic quali roster players. and i’m suggesting if their goal is qualification — which i am less obsessed with but still disappointed for them about — then you have a choice to make on the type of player targeted for the prep games.

      • you could argue they used the U23 exactly right and it was a way of starting to get the younger emerging players involved, who were then funneled upwards. but then that will be at the expense of not only having the depleted squad we always get, but them having never played together. the difference being that when we used to field a college all star team they could camp for months and get familiar with each other…..

    • IV you have to also remember the U20s had their last camp before the WC that week too. Guys like Ledezma, Pomykal, Dest, and others were with them. The pandemic destroyed this roster Ledezma, Aaronson, McKenzie, Llanez would have all played last March. Most of those guys were with Tab that March.

  11. Ochoa the young backup keeper blows the game. Why is Marcinkowski just perennially disrespected by the USMNT? Remember when he had to sit behind Klinsmann’s kid – what a joke! But that one instance aside, I think the coaches should emphasize experience over a two-week camp. Yueill, Glad, and Mihailovic were standouts with this team and happen to be some of the most seasoned players on the roster. (Apologies to Jonathan Lewis, who has plenty of MLS minutes but did not make much with them)

  12. i can’t see this as a referendum on the age group because we aren’t getting full availability of players who are either “graduated” out of age group ball or not released. it’s not that big a deal. u20 is the more serious barometer since we get 99% of our selections and few pulisic types are graduated at that point.

    however i do question the coaching and tactics when quali after quali we seem to trip over the hurdle at about the same place. we’re obviously marginal on talent (rostered). we don’t strategize like it.

  13. we really need to get rid of the whole keeper passing notion. at every level it’s costing us goals allowed, and not really contributing to offense the other way. launch the ball upfield and be done with it. do that this game and we’re still in OT. just silly.

    • i mean, no pressure, fine, but we plainly are not rene higuita smooth. a couple decades ago if a cutesy keeper allowed a goal it would happen once and be ordered ceased. so much of this is when a pile of cute becomes concept. far as i am concerned this is undisciplined.

    • How many big games have we lost over the last decade because of stupid keeper mistakes playing out the back. It’s idiotic.

  14. Well that was disappointing. The coaching of this group was horrid, with next to no tactics or adjustments made all tournament.
    I get we didn’t have our first choice players…but the players we did have were all experienced professionals. I expected better of coaches, the players, and ultimately the federation. Kreis should not be allowed a US coaching position again. Ernie should be put under a microscope…and if Gregg had any part in the decision to hire Kreis he too should be held accountable.
    Only good thing is now we can focus on getting the best players into the Sr. USMNT, and stop all the BS.

    • the emphasis on implementing a style gets in the way of tactics. in fact, trying something else to get a result would undermine the missionary goal. the style concept also prevents the team from adjusting to who does and does not end up available for selection.

      • Well,…yee-ah! You are so right. And the coaching and leadership has to be held accountable. At the same time, the Euro U21 tournament is going on. Germany, Spain (Spain!), Belgium, Holland, France, etc. – all playing such attractive, flowing and WELL COACHED soccer. Young men showing up and playing with skill on the ball, convoiction, authority, and intensity. This is really sad and shameful. The system is incoherent, the coaching is atrocious, the level of intensity and effort from the indivdual players on the team meandering and inconsistent, like playing an Olympic qualifier with a ticket to Tokyo on the line was just a little Sunday project, a model airplane I’m building in the basement, I might get to today, maybe, maybe later……a side hustle, an absent minded after thought of a stroll on the pitch. Can’t string 3 passe to gether or maintain possesion for more than 5 seconds. Giving he ball away cheaply, over and over again. The better team won. Good on them. Bien pa’ los Catrachos. Watching he Mexico U23s play, it is so clear that they are so far better coached, so better organized on the field, so much more intense and passionate, not mention exquisitely skilled and tactically aware. The players adjust to each other, show for the ball, sprint to get into passing lanes when play comes their way. Micro-adjusting to be inside defensive pockets, evenly, equidistant from oppsing defenders, either side of them (like all gtood teams do) and available for the ball, etc. etc. etc…..9/10 a US player heads a 50/50 ball in the middle-third, or defensive half and it goes to no one, or right to an opposing player. 9/10 a Mexican player wins a header, they put it on the feet of a team-mate. That is coaching, coaching, coaching. Not to mention that Mexican soccer in general, has some of the best and best trained, professional sports pyschologist in CONCACAF. US Soccer Federation, WAKE UP!

      • it’s hard to hire a serious coach to coach U23 and if you did they would probably want independence from the missionary malarkey, selection and tactical control. part of the problem is that as of Klinsmann U23 became part of the Empire in which one implements their System. we should know by now GB is not on to some amazing tactical concept that HAS to be taught everyone, but he is empowered as though it is gospel. so i have a feeling the shadow of the senior team coach is over all these age group coaches when they think about selections and formations and tactics.

      • This is why there is a good chance we will flame out of qualifying and if by some miracle we don’t, will go 0-3 under the big lights. GB is not a world class soccer brain nor a coach who has an aura that immediately improves your squad. To think that he or quite frankly any American coach has the right to implement style and system over what the talent on your roster dictates to you is laughable. Beyond that, the American players have no heart and no leader. Maybe it’s reflection of America itself. Maybe players like Altidore seeing racists everywhere he looks, when Twellman is rightly criticizing failure of the program is a sign of a broader cultural problem. Maybe wearing black lives still matter shirts is a bad idea. Maybe the women’s team bullshit is hurting our program. We’re a county and a soccer program in decline.

  15. Nothing brave about this effort today. Its too bad, these players are now stamped w/ this loss forever. Most will never play for the NT in a crucial match again.

  16. i feel like the soft team concept doesn’t help in big games. this used to be a fighting team. there was no urgency until the second half. i feel like teams that begin from a more defensive or tough minded concept would inherently have fight.

  17. In the friendly against Northern Ireland the senior men showed more effort and intensity than this team did.They only seemed to put in a real effort in the last 5 minutes. I regret being right about Lewis’ shortcomings. On several occasions he was garbage. Why does he keep getting called into national teams? As I said at the beginning, Ebobissee should have been on this team, not Lewis. And please never put Kreis in charge of anything important. This team was so obviously NOT READY.

    • This team was limited in talent and skills compare to the Europeans, and I blame ussf and mls for still having its season start in bs season because we are Americans or the season…smh…it costs us the concachampions tournament and games like this with the USA team. They were out of form and played in form teams.

      • (1) UEFA is qualifying same time we are — during the season. (2) germany sucks at U21 and rarely qualifies. the UK doesn’t usually participate since it competes as GB. their lack of Oly success has nothing to do with how the senior team turns out. (3) i kind of doubt U21 selections in UEFA are as full as you imply. it’s an afterthought just like here. our problem is mexico and honduras have most of their players at home for access and take it seriously. our best tend to run abroad and become unavailable.

    • UEFA has already determined their Olympic representatives in June of 2019. Concacaf was the only region that had not held its qualifying before the pandemic hit. The current UEFA U21 tournament winner just gets a trophy. It also falls completely in the international window so clubs were more obliged knockout rounds will be in June. Concacaf should move it to the summer but then it would conflict with the GC because they insist on holding that every two years.

  18. any time we want to quit playing a vulnerable 433 is fine by me. particularly arrogant with less than a full selection. i get lectured we need to do this with kids. these aren’t kids. this isn’t working. you have a shorthanded roster and you’re running out a formation like your talent can just walk out and win.

    • The formation didn’t lose this game, it was the players not putting in enough effort and concentration. So much sloppy play a lot of the players should be ashamed.

      • y’all exist on some pretend planet. we keep trying certain tactics. we don’t win. maybe those are not your practical tactics. particularly when you can’t get the full roster and are running out too many DM types.

        in particular, a 433 provides few mid options for backs to pass to, and little defensive resistance.

        i know the aesthetes want to keep this but the argument was this was a winning way. i don’t see it yet at any level. i see the talent playing to its level. how about coaching to maximize the pool?

    • people complaining about passing, well, 433 is very few mids to pass to. and you’re picking an attacking style then trying to execute with a bunch of DMs. we have basic identity confusion.

      • re. systems and formations, the 4 3 3 is implemented differently by Guardiola and Klopp, for example…not the same way at all but same ‘formation’. Klopp favors 3 6’s, not Pep, for example. the main benefit of 4 3 3 is to press for Klopp while Pep presses but likes to build with it. Basically, I’m saying the discussion about DMs in a 4 3 3 is off taret imo; Klopp has won huge with it

    • That’s a great post beachbum, if you watch the way the NT has shifted its play once it realized it didn’t have great passing ball control CMs. I will agree with IV though given the conditions that were predictable why set up for a system to high press in the heat and altitude. So if your going to play Peps way bring bring Parks and Busio instead.

      • I think y’all confuse the effects of talent with those of tactics.
        Guardiola and Pep coach teams with massive checkbooks competing at a talent advantage. Implicit in their decisions to use the formation and perhaps even press is the understanding they have better players to overwhelm you with. If I have less to work with the assumptions no longer hold. I am playing a hyperaggressive vulnerable formation and bunch balling the mids like 10 year olds with the weaker team. Normally the weaker team doesn’t drop their pants tactically, nor assume they can park on the other end and press away any problems. You get back in numbers, clog the middle, and play for the counter. This is half my beef with the snobs on this is the ideas being adopted are not made for everyone nor are they an advantage if everyone and their dog trots out in some version of a 433.

  19. Well that’s sad. Not a single player did much for me (nor Kreis, who was comically lost all tournament). And David Ochoa gets to take a seat alongside Sean Johnson in the annals of critical GK failure in this competition. But it the end, we were out-thought and outplayed by Honduras. Better team won the game.

    • Yup thr guy that scored the goal plays for Rio grande valley a semi pro team. Ridiculous, Honduras is always fearless against us. Taught us how to play with huevos.

      • if you look at the squad lists, exception of DR, every team is vast majority domestic. Mexico or Honduras most of their players stay home so it reflects domestic quality. for us many go abroad so it reflects the player drain. Honduras players like Elis use this for a springboard out of Honduras. they take it deathly serious because it’s their way out. we are already gone to europe by now. in theory they could be hungrier but they are usually already MLS starters and it’s less consequential for their transfer prospects.

      • i think you could over time select for “fire.” the US has gotten away from picking based on NT game performance IMO. it’s a little too “spreadsheet.” did we win? did they play hard? did they play well?

Leave a Comment