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U.S. U23s lose to Honduras, fail to qualify for Tokyo Olympics

Jason Kreis and the United States under-23s’ bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics ended in failure on Sunday night, as the U.S. slumped to a 2-1 defeat to Honduras in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The U.S. would have qualified with a win on Sunday, but instead misses out on qualifying for the Olympics for the third straight time. Meanwhile, Honduras has secured a fourth consecutive Olympic berth and will be joined by the winner of the second semifinal between Mexico and Canada.

After two wins to start the tournament, the U.S. lost a second consecutive game and goes out at the semifinal stage to Honduras for the second straight qualifying tournament.

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8:50 PM ET: That will do it for us. A disappointing night but we thank you for following along with us throughout the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. It wasn’t the result we hoped for in the end, but hopefully there are better days ahead for the USMNT. Good night!

8:35 PM ET: Some quotes from manager Jason Kreis in the aftermath of Sunday’s 2-1 defeat:

Jason Kreis on the struggles in attack of the #USMNT U-23s today, with the second quote especially about the first half. pic.twitter.com/O2ScyWXjB9

— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) March 29, 2021

8:20 PM ET: Harsh but true words from some former USMNT players turned pundits:

Unacceptable @ussoccer

A failure to the Nth degree because you had the “warning sign” from October of 2017….and yet here we are.

A proper “footballing nation” doesn’t fail to qualify for an Olympics 3 time running.

— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) March 29, 2021

“C” team? Sure. Preseason form? Ok.

Failure? Absolutely. 💯

Deserved win from Honduras 🇭🇳

— herculez gomez (@herculezg) March 29, 2021

Failure…. again.

— Stu Holden (@stuholden) March 29, 2021

8:15 PM ET: Some final takeaways from Jeff Carlisle on what is another very disappointing night for U.S. Soccer:

A case of chickens coming home to roost. The U.S. played one decent game out of four, and Kreis will have to answer for some of his roster choices.

This team showed little in the way of attacking verve save for one 30-minute stretch against Dominican Republic.

Say what you will about the importance of #Tokyo2020, but this is a complete and utter failure. No other way to put it.

— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) March 29, 2021

95 MINS: FULL TIME! The U.S. loses 2-1 to Honduras and will miss out on the Olympics for a third consecutive cycle. A massive disappointment to a campaign that started with such promise and high hopes.

94 MINS: Johnny is left open but he can’t control his header. Seemed like Johnny had found a good pocket of space there to do some damage.

94 MINS: Herrera wins a corner for the U.S., its ninth of the game. Is this its last chance of the match?

92 MINS: Honduras goes to the corner and wins a throw, it’ll be happy to keep the ball as far as it can from its goal.

90 MINS: CHANCE! Aaron Herrera picks out Soto at the near post but Honduras block. Corner for the U.S. and the fourth official announces there will be five minutes of added time.

89 MINS: SUB. One final roll of the dice from Jason Kreis as Johnny Cardoso comes on for Lewis.

85 MINS: FIVE MINUTES TO GO AND THE U.S. NEEDS A GOAL to force extra time. Jesus Ferreira fires wide, and the clock keeps ticking. Honduras in no rush to get play moving again as you’d expect.

84 MINS: CHANCE! Tanner Tessmann picks out Jonathan Lewis at the back post but the Colorado Rapids winger gets his feet tangled up and whiffs. Lewis really should have equalized there. Honduras survives a big scare.

82 MINS: Two corners in quick succession for the U.S. and despite two good deliveries from Yueill, no U.S. heads can get on the end of them.

80 MINS: SUB. Double change for Honduras as Douglas Martinez and Jose Pinto come on for the two goal scorers, Obregon and Palma.

75 MINS: Jonathan Lewis looked to have picked Honduras defender Wesly Decas’ pocket but he is whistled for a foul on the defender. Didn’t look to be a lot in it and a bad break for the USYNT. Lewis would have been in 1v1 with the goalkeeper.

73 MINS: SUB. Tessmann is on for Dotson, the ex-Clemson football recruit coming on. Credit to Dotson for giving it a go even when limited by an ankle injury but he was mostly around the periphery this evening.

71 MINS: SUB. Honduras makes a change, as Jonathan Núñez comes on for Rigoberto Rivas. Meanwhile, Tanner Tessmann looks to be preparing to come on for the United States.

69 MINS: Good save from Güity, as the Honduras goalkeeper dives well to his left to deny Yueill an equalizer. Good idea from Yueill and the U.S. has a corner.

67 MINS: Jonathan Lewis takes on a couple of Honduras defenders and is hauled down just outside the box. Free kick for the U.S. and inches away from a penalty. Lewis making things happen since the U.S. went down 2-0.

65 MINS: Dangerous free-kick opportunity for Honduras, as the tricky Rodriguez draws a foul on the edge of the U.S. box. No damage done though, as Palma blazes over.

63 MINS: CHANCE! From a set piece Jonathan Lewis has a header cleared off the line. Ferreira with the initial header to set up Lewis, his first meaningful contribution of the night.

59 MINS: SUB. Norwich City striker Sebastian Soto comes on for Andres Perea. The U.S. now going with two up top as it chases an equalizer.

53 MINS: Taylor Twellman approved of that Yueill strike!

Yueill & Perea are playing in spots that don’t suit their strong suits. Switch them and allow Yueill to get on the ball more deeper since 🇭🇳 is sitting in a mid to low block. #Tokyo2020 #USMNT

— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) March 28, 2021

52 MINS: BANGGGGG! Jackson Yueill hits the top corner with a belter from outside the box. Huge moment from the captain and the U.S. suddenly has a lifeline! 2-1 Honduras.

Big one from the captain, let’s keep fighting!! pic.twitter.com/uTpeCRVwGt

— U.S. Soccer YNT (@USYNT) March 28, 2021

51 MINS: Honduras has a chance to put the game to bed on the counter but Jose Reyes scuffs wide from in close. Huge let-off for the U.S., whose Olympic dream could have ended right there.

47 MINS: GOAL Honduras … and the mountain to climb just got a whole lot taller. Disaster strikes for David Ochoa, whose clearance goes off the onrushing Palma to give Honduras a 2-0 lead.

⏱ Min. 46, GOOOOL GOOOOL GOOOOL de #Honduras, @Luispalma217 pone el 2do para la 🇭🇳 H! pic.twitter.com/x26bSKnsAO

— Selección Nacional de Honduras (@FenafuthOrg) March 28, 2021

46 MINS: SUB. The U.S. makes its first change:

46′ | First change for the U.S. as Sebastian Saucedo comes on for Djordje Mihailovic.

🇺🇸 0-1 🇭🇳

— U.S. Soccer YNT (@USYNT) March 28, 2021

7:06 PM ET: Quiet half from Jesus Ferreira …

Poor overall half from the #USMNT U-23s. Jesus Ferreira with two touches the whole half in the attacking third, indicative of the lack of penetration by the US attack.

— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) March 28, 2021

HALF-TIME: Honduras 1-0 United States. Honduras is 45 minutes away from qualifying for a fourth consecutive Olympic Games.

45+4 MINS: Honduras goal! It’s Obregon who bundles it over the line after Denil Maldonado brilliantly headed across goal. A beautiful initial long ball from Edwin Rodriguez but U.S. defense caught sleeping just before the break.

⏱ Min. 45+4, GOOOOOOL GOOOOL GOOOOL de @jcobre10 , la manda a guardar al fondo de las redes de @USYNT . pic.twitter.com/cu0sCMTgm5

— Selección Nacional de Honduras (@FenafuthOrg) March 28, 2021

45+3 MINS: Kessler not as lucky this time as he gets a yellow card minutes after escaping the referee’s book. He hauls down Juan Carlos Obregon. That matchup will be one to keep an eye on the rest of the evening.

43 MINS: An end-to-end sequence sees the U.S. have a half-chance in the box. Dotson and Aaron Herrera combine well but Mihailovic lets Herrera’s cross run through and Honduras clears. Los Catrachos attempt to counter but Henry Kessler takes down a Honduras player away from the ball. The referee didn’t spot it though and Kessler avoids what would have been a deserved yellow card.

42 MINS: Hassani Dotson tries to find Ferreira down the right flank but his ball has a bit too much pace on it and goes out for a Honduras throw-in. U.S. completely out of sync thus far.

39 MINS: The U.S. really lacking fluidity so far in midfield as ex-USMNT striker and current ESPN pundit Taylor Twellman points out.

Yueill & Perea are playing in spots that don’t suit their strong suits. Switch them and allow Yueill to get on the ball more deeper since 🇭🇳 is sitting in a mid to low block. #Tokyo2020 #USMNT

— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) March 28, 2021

34 MINS: A corner for Honduras but the U.S. clears. This game could really use a goal.

32 MINS: The U.S. wins another free kick in a dangerous area but Honduras deals with it. Most of U.S. chances coming from set-piece opportunities so far.

30 MINS: The U.S. has a second corner but nothing comes from it again. Honduras with the majority of shots so far but nothing truly dangerous so far from either side.

25 minutes gone, not a whole lot in this for either side. Honduras content to shoot from distance, but they’re going to have a hard time beating Ochoa from range. #USMNT U-23s attack having difficulty connecting in the final third.

— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) March 28, 2021

29 MINS: Honduras goes short with its corner and Palma has a go at goal. The shot is well-hit and long but Ochoa drops to his knees and corrals it.

27 MINS: Honduras wins its first corner kick of the match but that will have to wait, as the referee signals for a hydration break. With the temperature currently 90 degrees in Guadalajara, don’t be surprised if we see another hydration break later on.

25 MINS: A little flair from the USYNT, as Mihailovic nutmegs a Honduras defender but his ball from Jesus Ferreira is a tad too long. Better from the Stars and Stripes.

21 MINS: Another long-range effort for Honduras, Luis Palma testing Ochoa from distance. The Real Salt Lake keeper has been the busier of the goalkeepers so far, although his three saves have all been of the straightforward variety.

18 MINS: Honduras danger man Edwin Rodríguez has a shot from distance which is comfortably caught by Ochoa in the U.S. goal. As Jeff Carlisle pointed out pregame, controlling Rodriguez will be a big key for the United States defense.

16 MINS: Not to be outdone, Lewis tries to one-up Rosales but also blazes wide. Both teams not shy in the early stages.

14 MINS: A speculative effort from Honduras’ Joseph Rosales soars over as Honduras registers its first shot attempt of the match.

12 MINS: CHANCE! The ball runs through for Jonathan Lewis but he can’t get his boot across it and fires wide. U.S. starting to mount some pressure here.

10 MINS: The subsequent corner is dealt with easily by Honduras. Not the best delivery from Mihailovic.

8 MINS: The U.S. wins a free kick in the Honduras half and Djordje Mihailovic whips in a testing ball after an intricate training ground routine. Honduras keeper Alex Güity does well to punch clear but the U.S. will have the first corner of the match. Güity stays down initially after taking some contact but he will stay in.

5 MINS: The first chance of the game goes to Honduras with David Ochoa called upon to make a save. The flag did go up for offsides but an early scare for the United States.

1 MIN: AND WE ARE UNDERWAY FROM GUADALAJARA!

6:00 PM ET: It won’t be long now as the teams have taken the pitch and are poised for the playing of the national anthems.

5:30 PM ET: With a half-hour until kickoff, let’s check in with our U.S. soccer expert Jeff Carlisle to get his keys to the game:

1. U.S. attackers need to step up. The Americans have been relatively quiet offensively in this tournament and the fact that Jackson Yueill is playing in a more advanced role speaks to the fact that more is needed.

2. Keep Edwin Rodriguez in check. The U.S. defense has gotten better with each game. It’ll need to continue that trend in order to contain Rodriguez, who tends to float around all over the field, though he’ll be without sidekick Kervin Arriaga, who is suspended. Holding mid Andres Perea will need to be aware as well.

3. How effective will Hassani Dotson be? Dotson has been one of the better players for the U.S., but an ankle injury limited his training ahead of this match. Can he reprise his performances from earlier in the tournament? The level of Dotson’s effectiveness could play a decisive role in what figures to be a closely-contested fixture.

5:00 PM ET: And the lineups are out … with Jason Kreis making five changes from the side that lost 1-0 to Mexico on Wednesday night.

Justen Glad, Jesus Ferreira, Sam Vines, Jackson Yueill, and Jonathan Lewis are all drafted into the side, while midfielder Hassani Dotson starts despite initially being an injury question mark. For Honduras, key midfielder Kervin Arriaga misses out through yellow card accumulation.

📝 ALINEACIONES 👥👥@FenafuthOrg 🇭🇳 🆚 🇺🇸 @USYNT

🏅 #CMOQ pic.twitter.com/SMcxBXJmgp

— Concacaf (@Concacaf) March 28, 2021

4:50 PM ET: It’s Matchday, as we are now just over an hour and a half away from kickoff between the U.S. and Honduras in the semifinals of CONCACAF Olympic qualifying! Remember to keep it locked here throughout the evening as we follow along with this pivotal match, with the winner clinching an all-important berth at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

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