The dream is over. The U.S. lost to El Salvador. Well, it was a draw technically but the U.S. Under-23 national team needed to beat El Salvador to advance to the Olympic qualifying semifinals but failed to do so, surrendering a 3-2 lead in the fifth minute of stoppage time on Monday.
And the mighty giant has fallen.
Alright, the U.S. is not the mighty giant, and anyone who thinks this team was actually a gold-medal contender now knows how foolish that notion ever was. This is... WAS... a team with talent, sure, but talent does not win games alone. It never has. These Americans are far more talented than their Central American counterparts; many of these U.S. players will go on to have standout careers in leagues and clubs bigger than El Salvador's players will, but none of that matters. It certainly did not matter during the game.
What mattered was heart. The U.S. looked like it had heart there in battling back to take a 3-2 lead after trailing by a goal at halftime and into the second half. But no, this team ultimately lacked the heart and desire and courage necessary to close out the match. Perhaps it was El Salvador's tactics - elbowing players, reckless fouls, etc. - that got the U.S. players off their game or maybe the Americans just thought they had the game in hand and got overconfident. Whatever the case, the U.S. could not see the job through.
For all of that, though, if Sean Johnson makes a save on Jaime Alas' shot from distance - and it appeared to be a rather routine save - then we're talking about how the U.S. dodged a bullet and now will have a few days to recover before facing Honduras (likely) in the semis.
But soccer can be cruel, and the ball just did not go the way the Americans wanted on Monday. The dream is over and the American lads won't be in London vying for soccer glory.
Ultimately, this is just a case of a team who failed to see the job through. A talented team, yes, but a flawed team as well. And a team that won't be anywhere near London this summer.