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U.S. eliminated from Olympic Qualifiers

Published: March 27, 2012
It was an epic, heartbreaking failure for the U.S. U23 Men’s National Team on Monday night in the final game of Group A play from the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Nashville.

Holding a 3-2 lead in the 94th minute, the U.S. only needed to withstand a few more seconds of play before hearing the referee blow his whistle for full time and clinching a spot for the team in the semifinal.

El Salvador midfielder Jaime Alas picked off a pass in the midfield and raced into space. Alas tried his luck from 25 yards out, which skipped across the turf off the fingertips of Sean Johnson and into the net for the equalizer at the death.

“The players are devastated,” U23 MNT head coach Caleb Porter said in an emotional press conference following the game. “Sorry for the fans. Sorry for U.S. Soccer. We just weren't able to get the job done."

The 3-3 draw dropped the U.S. to third place in the group, which ends the U.S.’s run to clinching a spot at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. El Salvador and Canada advanced from Group A and will play in the semifinals on Saturday.

U.S. Player Ratings:


Bill Hamid, 5 -- The injury put a damper on his night, and held him partially responsible for both of the goals. He did not do much prior to taking the knock, and was not entirely at fault for either goal.

Kofi Sarkodie, 5 -- His return to the lineup provided a much needed boost of energy. But he screened Boyd on El Salvador’s goal from a set piece and didn’t engineer a tremendous amount going forward.

Ike Opara, 5
-- Again the defense wasn’t good enough, conceding three cheap goals. And while Opara made no obvious errors, there were numerous shaky moments that culminated with the last-minute goal.

Perry Kitchen, 5
-- In the same vein as Opara, Kitchen played okay, but wasn’t nearly as commanding and the back line still had too many problems and issues that weren’t sorted out.

Jorge Villafana, 4 -- Most of El Salvador’s success came down the U.S. left flank, where Villafana was overrun at times. His poor ball for Kitchen started the sequence for El Salvador’s second tally of the game.  

Amboi Okugo, 6 -- The early yellow card slowed his game, and while he played well enough to avoid contact and still boss the midfield. However, he didn’t do that well enough towards the end of the game.

Mix Diskerud, 5 -- The center midfielder had trouble finding the game in the first half, and dropped into a deeper role in the second half with some success at facilitating the offense.

Joe Corona, 5 -- Like the game against Canada, Corona’s time and space on the ball was limited by the buzzing El Salvadorans. Without that, Corona’s impact on the game was minimal, except for when he popped up to score what was the go-ahead tally at the time.

Freddy Adu, 7
-- There was a ten-minute spell in the second half where Adu took over the game and provided two brilliant assists. Questions should be asked about why he was taken off at the end, when he had done well holding the ball.

Terrence Boyd, 7 -- The German-born striker provided two quality goals, and withstood the abusive tactics from defenders. He did lose the mark on the first goal, and he failed to hold possession in the corner at the end of the game.

Brek Shea, 6 -- The start to the game could not have been better for Shea. He torched the right back and delivered a great assist to Boyd. After that, it was a struggle for Shea, who could also shoulder blame on not being able to kill off the game.

Substitutes:

Sean Johnson, 4 -- Johnson’s night will be remembered for his unsuccessful effort on the final shot from distance, but he did have two quality saves earlier in the half.  

Michael Stephens, NR -- Only had a few minutes at the end.

Joe Gyau, NR -- Only had a minute at the end of the contest.
 
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