US men lose to Honduras, miss 3rd straight Olympic soccer


The United States missed its third straight Olympic men’s soccer tournament, losing to Honduras 2-1 on Sunday night in a qualification game as Juan Carlos Obregón scored in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time and goalkeeper David Ochoa committed a blunder that gifted Luis Palma a goal two minutes into the second half.

U.S. captain Jackson Yueill pulled a goal back with a curling 23-yard shot in the 52nd minute and the Americans had several good chances to tie the score. Jonathan Lewis’ 63rd-minute header was headed off the goal line by Wesley Degas, Yueill’s free kick in the 69th was batted away by goalkeeper Alex Barrios Lewis allowed an open 4-yard shot off Tanner Tessman’s pass in the 83rd minute to bounce off a boot, and Johnny Cardoso mis-hit an open header in stoppage time.

While Honduras advanced to its fourth straight Olympics this summer in Japan, the U.S. extended its streak of futility, The Americans missed the 2012 Games in England when goalkeeper Sean Johnson allowed a 25-yard shot to bounce in off his hands in second-half stoppage time for a 3-3 draw against El Salvador, then didn’t reach the 2016 Olympics in Brazil due to a 2-0 loss to Honduras followed by a playoff defeat to Colombia, The senior U.S. national team also failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

The U.S. men played in four of five Olympics from 1992 to 2008.

Host Mexico played Canada in the second game of the doubleheader for the other berth from North and Central America and the Caribbean.

CONCACAF qualifiers join Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Egypt, France, Germany, Ivory Coast, Japan, New Zealand, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Spain in the draw, which will be held in Zurich on April 21. The tournament will be played from July 21 to Aug. 7 in Tokyo, Kashima, Miyagi, Saitama, Sapporo and Yokohama.

Honduras advanced to Tuesday night’s CONCACAF Under-24 Championship, which has no impact on the Olympics.

Qualifying and the Olympics were postponed by a year because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and FIFA kept the requirement that players be born Jan. 1, 1997, or later, Olympic men’s soccer had been an under-23 tournament since 1992.

Teams can change their rosters between qualifying and the Olympics, and each nation can use up to three players over the age limit. However, clubs are not required to release players for Olympics or qualifying.

On a 90-degree afternoon with kickoff at 4 p.m. at 5,100 feet, Honduras went ahead a clearance by Justen Glad that followed a free kick. The U.S. defense began to move upfield as Edwin Maldonado recovered the ball and quickly made a long diagonal pass. Denil Maldonado sprinted past the American defense and sent the ball back across the goalmouth with a diving header, and Obregón used his left leg to redirect the ball past Ochoa.

Ochoa will long remember the second goal. Aaron Herrera made a harmless backpass and the goalkeeper, just outside the 6-yard box, hesitated and tried to chip the ball upfield. The ball ricocheted off Palma’s left leg and into the American goal.

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