This will go down as one of the biggest flops in American CONCACAF qualifying at any level. The US crashed out of the 2012 Olympic Qualifying after losing to Canada and then drawing 3-3 with El Salvador in most disappointing fashion.
The US entered the final group matchday needing a win to advance to the knockout round. They got some good news beforehand as Cuba earned a draw against Canada. A win would allow the US to win the group outright. The opening whistle blew and the US came out flying scoring right off the bat.
A quick cross from Brek Shea found Terrence Boyd in front of goal who volleyed home. Dream start and the US should have been on their way.
El Salvador took twenty minutes to find their footing but they eventually worked their way into the match after a long period of US domination. In a period of 5 minutes the game was flipped on its head. El Salvador scored twice in quick succession to grab a 2-1 lead. After giving a horrible goal away to Canada on a corner kick two days ago, it was once again a corner where the Americans fell asleep and allowed a near post header. Only a minute later El Salvador had the lead.
It was all US from there for the next 40 minutes as they pressed and pressed needing two goals. In the 65th minute the pressure paid off as Freddy Adu slipped a perfect pass to Boyd who fired home to tie the match at two. Just minutes later and the US completed a dramatic comeback as Freddy Adu once again providing the assist. This time a perfect cross that Joe Corona headed home. Now they just needed to see out the final 20 minutes to win the group.
Fat chance. El Salvador was desperate and cheap. Somehow a blatant punch bloodying Boyd was missed. Even then it looked like the US were on their way to the semifinals until the final seconds. The clock ticked seconds past the four minutes of allotted stoppage time and El Salvador made one final rush. Jaime Alas ran towards goal as the US defenders failed to step up allowing him to fire from 25 yards out. It should have been a fairly easy save for Sean Johnson as he went down to his right. Somehow though it turned into a mistake that would knock the Americans from the tournament. The ball bounced off Johnson's hands flopping upwards, over him and into the net. Game. Set.Match. A 3-3 draw and the US are out.
This was about as bad as it gets. The strength of the American soccer system has been goalkeeping for decades. I certainly hope Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson are not the best of the next keeper class.
Get more soccer stuff over at Soccer Mogul.