Monday, March 26, 2012

Talent Can't Save U.S. Olympic Dreams

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.


East River said...

Well said LB.

I also want to say something about Porter's coaching. Porter waited on his subs way to late in this game and when he did he subbed two of his best players for defense. Alas this had the opposite intended effect. Without Adu or Corona there was no one to hold or control the ball. The US tried to boot the ball but lost possession and worst of all these defenders were caught up field and out of shape. How do you make two defensive subs in the last minutes of a game and yet your goal keeper is left alone to have to punch out a hard shot in the dying seconds of a match? Both players and coaches were naive and its showed in the last two games. In the long run this could be a very good experience for these players. They know now they have a lot to learn about playing the game and playing the Concacaf way.

Anonymous said...

Teams should never just play defense. They get over confident and always seem to lose when this happens. You can only allow so many shots before one of them is going to sneak through. Always play the attack especially with a one goal lead.

Ramiro said...

The USA didn't exactly beat themselves in this game either. So you have to give credit where credit is due. El Salvador had a good game-plan and stuck to it and got the result they needed. And so much for teams never just playing defense: El Salvador only needed a draw, while the US needed a win.

Anonymous said...

From my perspective Porter was out coached in the last two games. Which was a big reason for not moving on.