The goal for the Concacaf Olympic Qualifiers for the United States U-23 team was to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 2008. That goal was not accomplished with the U.S. coached by Jason Kreis falling to Honduras 2-1 on Sunday night in Guadalajara, Mexico. This was supposed to be the coming-out party for the United States that is desperately trying to change the negative perception that has surrounded its team for years. Instead, we are now sitting here and writing the same story for the third consecutive time.
“Obviously we are devastated, absolutely devastated,” said US U-23 Head Coach Jason Kreis. “We all wanted this so bad. So badly for so many different reasons. I think it could be, sometimes when you want it too bad you put yourself in a position where you can’t perform to the level needed. At the end of the day, I just don’t think we had enough.”
In the 45th minute, the U.S. got caught sleeping and Juan Carlos Obregón Jr. scored to make it 1-0 going into halftime. In the 47th minute, Honduras made it 2-0 with Luis Palma scoring. Jackson Yueill scored for the United States in the 52nd to pull one back but that was all the offense they were able to muster.
Throughout the entire tournament, the United States lacked consistency and never truly had a dominant 90-minute performance. Some of that was driven by the bulk of the roster being in preseason form.
“It’s a fact of life that you lose more than you win,” said U.S. U-23 Head Coach Jason Kreis. “And it’s always going to be about who gets up and moves forward the quickest. These disappointments happen in your life over and over and over again and you have no choice but to move forward”
While the perception of this loss isn’t great the fact that this was far from the best possible U-23 team the U.S. could have fielded does have some credence. Clubs did not have to release their players for this event and many chose not to allow their players to participate. This also doesn’t mean that the U.S. isn’t set up for success in the coming years. That being said this is a body blow to the momentum that U.S. Soccer has been able to build in the past year.
“I think disappointment, said U.S. U-23 Captain Jackson Yueill when asked to sum up the emotions of the moment. “We wanted to win this game and make it back to Tokyo. We’re disappointed. I will say that I am proud of the group. I think we gave it our all every game. These tournaments are challenging and we knew that coming into it. We are saddened with the loss and I know the guys are going to have to take a bit and hopefully they will bounce back stronger after this.”
The overall future does remain bright for the United States and they will have to make the most of the remaining opportunities that they will have in 2021. Next up for the federation is Concacaf Nations League, then the Gold Cup, and then the very important World Cup Qualifiers in the Fall.