Despite the efforts of their captain Freddy Adu (above), who had two assists, and striker Terrence Boyd, who scored two goals, the United States U-23 team tied El Salvador 3-3 in a game they needed to win to advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament.
The result, which eliminates the Americans, came after Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson botched his lines on a seemingly harmless long-range shot by El Salvador’s Jaime Alas in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
Boyd—who absorbed a second-half punch to the face that bloodied his nose and went unnoticed by the officials—opened the scoring 61 seconds into the game, and El Salvador answered with two goals in a three-minute span before halftime.
Boyd tied it up in the 64th and Joe Corona gave the U.S. a 3-2 lead in the 69th, setting the stage for Johnson’s last-gasp gaffe.
Due to club commitments, the U.S. team was missing several players who could have helped—and probably would have joined the team had it qualified for London—including Jozy Altidore, Timmy Chandler, Josh Gatt, and Alfredo Morales. But this was still a team that should have qualified relatively comfortably.
They had plenty of talent, they fielded multiple players with full-national team experience, and they were playing on U.S. soil (even if Nashville, which drew thousands of Salvadoran fans last night, wasn’t an ideal spot for home-field advantage).
They simply didn’t get the job done, and they’ll look back on their poor defending and very shaky goalkeeping as the main culprits.
World Cup qualifying starts in 43 days. How many of these guys will be a part of it?