Devastating. Heartbreaking. Unfathomable. Mind-numbing. Speechless.
These were all words that only begin to describe the shocking moments late that transpired in the 95th minute at LP Field as Jaime Alas' long-range effort bounced over Sean Johnson and into the back of the net. The goal tied up the match at 3s but more importantly meant the US would be eliminated from Olympic qualifying, finishing 3rd in group A. As a result, the Yanks did the unthinkable and failed to even advance to the decisive semi-final match of the tournament, which determines if you are Olympic bound or sofa bound. Instead the Yanks bowed out early in dramatic fashion.
The US had a rough go of it the last two matches with the 2-0 loss to Canada on Saturday inevitably crushing their Olympic dreams. It will be a rough summer for the US program and US supporters located all over the states as they watch the Olympics without seeing their beloved Yanks.
If you luckily missed the match, here are the important events that transpired in what was truly a roller-coaster of emotions...
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-US boss Caleb Porter decided to shake up the starting 11 for tonight's do or die match vs. El Salvador making 3 changes to the roster that was stunned by Canada's sturdy "Christmas tree" formation. Porter inserted Terrence Boyd at striker, Kofi Sarkodie at right back, and Amobi Okugo at defensive center midfield for Teal Bunbury, Zarek Valentin, and Jared Jeffrey respectively
-The moves paid immediate dividends as the Borussia Dortmund man, Terrence Boyd, found the back of the net within 3 minutes. Boyd had a sublime finish as he volleyed the ball with his first touch into the roof of the net. Boyd's goal was all thanks to the industrious work of Shea down the wing who forced his way through the El Salvadorian defense unleashing a perfect cross to Boyd.
-Our foes settled down and slowly got back into the game. It then was just a matter of time until they cracked the combination to the US defense, which everyone knows is 1-2-3-4. In doing so Honduras notched two goals in a 90 second span- one via the free kick variety and the other via a cross as nobody tracked back to cover Andres Flores. At this point the Yanks would be eliminated from the Olympics if they did not comeback to score two more goals.
-Amidst the Honduran goal barrage US goalie Bill Hamid got injured, tweaking something, and thus back-up goal Sean Johnson came on in the 39th minute to replace the DC United man. It should be noted that Sean Johnson was the 1b and quite a serviceable keeper.
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-It was a tale of two halves as the Yanks came out with a purpose barely seen in this tournament, led by the most experienced man on the team, Freddy Adu. Adu was stepping up into his captain role, quarterbacking this team, and trying to will them to Kansas City for the semi-final match-up. Adu did his part as he assisted on back-to-back US goals in a blistering 3 minute time period. He played in Boyd for the first, who had a sublime sliding finish once he was in on goal, and then played a lofty cross which was finished by the Beer Man, Joe Corona. These goals came in the 65th and 68th minute respectively. So the Yanks had roughly 20 minutes to defend and then they were off to KC. However, it wasn't to be.
-And then everything came crashing down to earth. Caleb Porter inexcusably waited until the 88th and 93rd minutes to use his last two substitutions even though he was a coaching a team that was playing their 3rd game in 5 days and were defending for their lives in the final moments. Not only that, but Porter decided to put on the speedy Joe Gyau in stoppage time instead of opting to replace Freddy Adu with a defender such as Sheanon Williams, Zarek Valentin, or defensive midfielder Jared Jeffrey. Although Porter's decisions didn't directly cause what soon ensued but they couldn't have helped.
-With literally seconds left in the match, Jaime Alas struck the ball miles away from goal, as to heve up one last ditch effort before the final whistle blew. It almost had the feeling of a half court shot in basketball as time expires. The ball was fired low and hard. Sean Johnson decided to go down and he did so a bit too early, which in the end cost him as the ball unexpectedly took a bigger jump off the grass. Johnson who seemed to have tightened up in the crucial final moments desperately tried to swat the ball away but instead it somehow deflected into the back of the net. It was almost as if you were watching a drama movie as one couldn't believe it actually went in. It all happened so slowly too as the thought of disaster being averted turned into a monumental collapse, a collapse few of these youngsters will never forget.
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