The men were faced with a must win situation Monday night when they faced off with El Salvador in the group stage of the 2012 Olympic qualifier. They didn't lose, but sadly they didn’t win either.
Things were looking up for the U.S. when Joe Corona gave the U.S. a lead at the 68th minute, 3-2. However, during stoppage time Jaime Alas scored the decisive tying goal off the hands of the American keeper, Sean Johnson.
“This is probably the worst feeling I’ve ever felt in my life so far as a pro athlete,” U.S. captain Freddy Adu said. “This is going to be hard to get over... For me, I never want to feel this way again, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to never feel this way again.”
It will be just the second time since 1976 that the U.S. men’s soccer team will not be playing in the Olympics.
For those of you that are unaware of how the Olympics work for some sports, with the number of teams that could be entered in some sports (i.e. soccer) it would take way too long to come up with some sort of reasonable tournament format for everyone to play. As a result, tournaments are set up around the world divided according to geography. Place well enough during the qualifying tournament and a team can become one of 16 teams that can qualify for the Olympics.
The U.S. plays in what is the North American confederation along with El Salvador, Canada, Cuba, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago. They started off the 2012 qualifying tournament well with a 6-0 win over Cuba, but then fell 0-2 to Canada setting up a must win against El Salvador.
Terrence Boyd put the U.S. on top early with a goal in the first minute. El Salvador took advantage of a hobbled Bill Hamid (the starting U.S. keeper) to take the lead with a pair of goals barely a minute apart (35th and 36th).
Corona came to the rescue later in the game, but the real show was from Sean Johnson who was making his first appearance in the tournament subbing for the injured Hamid. Johnson played well after entering the game at the 39 minute mark.
Sadly all that anyone from the U.S. will remember is the one goal that he didn’t stop; the one that killed any chance the U.S. men’s soccer team had of making its 15th appearance in the Olympics.
Article by Travis Pulver