Kick Off: Postmortem on crushing US Olympic ousting
It’s hard to think of a more crushing US national team result that compares with yesterday’s Olympic qualifying elimination on the final kick of the game at the hands of El Salvador.
What makes the 3-3 tie all the more stunning is that it came on a gaffe from the usually sure-handed Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson. Watch that final strike and the other five goals here.
Johnson and FC Dallas winger Brek Shea apparently did not speak to reporters following the match and there were tears shared between Porter and his goalkeeper: “I just hugged him. Cried with him. What more do you do?”
Hear what ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas had to say about the elimination here. ESPN.com’s Leander Schaerlaeckens also gives his grades. The lowest? To D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
Several other reporters give their report card: The SI.com player ratings compiled by Avi Creditor reserved high praise for Freddy Adu. In the Soccer America report card for the match, there were plenty of 3s and 2s handed out. The New York Times reserved their lowest marks for Johnson and San Jose Earthquakes central defender Ike Opara.
The Olympic ouster led to this tweet by U-23 captain Freddy Adu: “Words cannot describe how I feel right now. Thank u for all your support. I'll do whatever it takes to never feel this way again.”
Hey, look at the bright side: At least the USA have a playing style! Here’s what USMNT boss Jurgen Klinsmann, who was in Nashville yesterday, said after the match: "[I liked] what you saw in terms of style, pace of the game, technical elements in the game," Klinsmann said. "You saw that tonight, against Cuba, against Mexico. That is very important for us to see that we are on the right path here in terms of style of play."
A late goal also cost the Canadian U-23 team, which could have finished top of Group A had it not been for Cuba’s stoppage-time strike. It will likely result in a battle against Mexico for the Canucks.
Canada and El Salvador will find out their opponents in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying semifinals later tonight when Honduras battle Trinidad and Tobago (9 pm ET, Mun2) for one of the tickets alongside Mexico, who face Panama in the late match (11 pm ET, Telemundo).
Do we have a possible defection by a member of Cuba’s squad? Reports say Yosmel de Armas did not show up for his country’s match against Canada yesterday. (SPANISH)
Canadians have a great deal to look forward to this week. Not only is there a winner-take-all Olympic qualifying semi likely against Mexico later this week, but Toronto FC also face Santos Laguna tomorrow in the CONCACAF Champions League semis. Los Guerreros arrived into town at 2:30 pm yesterday. (SPANISH)
The Vancouver Whitecaps are nurturing the latest batch of young Canadian talent and the club showed them off in yesterday’s Reserve League draw against the Seattle Sounders. Find out which players earned high praise from Whitecaps coaches, with one youngster called “fantastic” and another who “showed he can play at this level.”
Staying in Canada, cold weather forced the Montreal Impact indoors yesterday and manager Jesse Marsch opted for yoga and strength conditioning for his crew: “I do yoga with them to make sure that they’re not messing around,” Marsch told the Montreal Gazette. “When you get guys like Donovan Ricketts and Greg Sutton … watching them do yoga, it’s a challenge for them a little bit. But they seem to enjoy it and I think it will be helpful.”
It wasn’t helpful to Real Salt Lake to have an early goal called back by the referee in the match against Chivas USA on Saturday. The official made RSL retake a free kick that was taken quickly and a league official says that the whistle made the right call on this “ceremonial” free kick.
In other news, Sporting Kansas City trialist Mozzi Gyorio has apparently declined a contract offer from Sporting Kansas City after impressing in midfield during preseason camp.
Did Fulham manager Martin Jol take a dig at American Clint Dempsey when discussing the possibility of selling off his star players who are attracting interest from bigger European clubs? “The only thing I don't like is if they say before the season starts that they want to play Champions League football,” Jol said. That’s exactly what Dempsey did.
Speaking of the UEFA Champions League, the quarterfinals get underway today with Benfica vs. Chelsea (2:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer) and APOEL vs. Real Madrid (2:30 pm ET, Fox Deportes). Meanwhile, Fox Soccer Plus carries the Bolton vs. Tottenham FA Cup match (2:30 pm ET) that was called off after the cardiac arrest suffered by Fabrice Muamba.
In France, they’re taking notice of MLS average attendance these days. Why? Because it’s the third week in a row that MLS beats out Ligue 1 when it comes to fans flocking to stadiums: 20,396 vs. 20,219. (FRENCH)
C’mon. You’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to be an equipment manager in MLS. So we submit to you this Q&A with Sporting Kansas City’s Mike Flaherty in which he reveals that, “Basically, I am responsible for preventing nudity.”
Lastly, look which MLS player is getting rid of his two Bentleys, a BMW 645, a Range Rover Sport and a Lamborghini Gallardo and three Harley-Davidson motorcycles. They’re expected to fetch more than a half a million dollars.
Cast your vote for the AT&T Goal of the Week for Week 3
Canadian Olympic coach calls his team naïve after draw against Cuba
Get the The Kick-Off delivered to you!
Enter your email address below to sign up for The Kick-Off mailing list and get it delivered to your inbox every morning.