SANDY, Utah (AP) The United States is in danger of missing its second straight men’s Olympic soccer tournament.
Alberth Elis scored in the 24th and 77th minutes, and Honduras beat the U.S. 2-0 Saturday to qualify for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Games.
To reach the Olympics for the first time since 2008, the Americans must beat Canada on Tuesday in the third-place game of North and Central American and Caribbean qualifying, then defeat Colombia in the CONCACAF-South America one-game playoff, to be held in Rio from March 21-29.
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”We have to win,” Columbus midfielder Wil Trapp said. ”Plain and simple. That’s all it takes. There’s no other way. We can’t read into this result anymore. It’s over – disappointing as it was. We got to move forward.”
Olympic qualifying is limited to under-23 teams, and the Americans were eliminated four years ago in the group stage. Senior national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann said failing to reach the London Olympics set back the careers of players in that age group, which included Brek Shea, Mix Diskerud and Bill Hamid.
Now another age group could miss out on the Olympics. Among the American starters were New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga, Tottenham under-21 defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, Fulham midfielder Emerson Hyndman, Real Salt Lake midfielder Luis Gil and Stanford forward Jordan Morris, who already has scored for the U.S. senior national team.
”We were not able to deal with the situation today,” U.S. coach Andi Herzog said. ”It’s sad, but it’s the truth.”
Herzog cannot be on the bench for Tuesday’s game after receiving a red card in the 81st minute from referee Jafeth Perea of Panama, who also gave a red to Honduras coach Carlos Tabora.
Elis put the Hondurans ahead when he chested a pass from Kevin Alvarez and lobbed the ball over two defenders and inside a post of goalkeeper Ethan Horvath.
The U.S. had just two shots on goal in each half. The best chance was in the 63rd, minute, when goalkeeper Luis Lopez made a diving one-handed deflection on Carter-Vickers’ header off a corner kick.
Elis doubled the lead when he flicked the ball inside the far post following Kevin Lopez’s cross.
”We had our plan, but we weren’t able to do it in the right way,” Herzog said. ”That’s the most disappointing thing.”
As the Americans pressed for a goal, Trapp, Fatai Alashe and Jerome Kiesewetter were given yellow cards from the 75th minute on.
”It’s an emotional game with a lot on the line,” Trapp said. ”They managed the game pretty well. Can’t fault them for that.”