The US Under-23 men's national team's 2021 Concacaf Olympic Qualifying campaign came to an end in heartbreaking fashion with a 2-1 defeat to Honduras in the semifinals matchup between the sides at Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico on Sunday.
Needing a win to qualify for their first Olympics since 2008, the US got a second-half stunner from San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Jackson Yueill, but it wasn't enough to overcome a pair of concessions on either side of halftime.
Honduras got the opener deep into first-half stoppage time, as Juan Carlos Obregon charged onto a cross that was headed back across the goal and pushed the finish past Real Salt Lake goalkeeper David Ochoa, putting the US in a 1-0 deficit.
The US conceded what turned out to be a back-breaking second goal shortly after second-half kickoff, as Luis Palma stuck out his boot and blocked an attempted clearance in front of goal by Ochoa. The ensuing deflection trickled into the net, staking Honduras to a 2-0 advantage.
With his team on the ropes and in dire need of a spark, Yueill provided a necessary moment of brilliance, cutting the lead in half just five minutes later with a clinical bending finish from distance.
The Yanks had a couple of good looks at an equalizer, including a headed attempt from Jonathan Lewis that was cleared off the line, and a dangerous free kick from Yueill that was saved by Honduras goalkeeper Jose Guity. Lewis had one more last-gasp attempt in the 84th-minute, but the Colorado Rapids' midfielder couldn't control a cross from second-half substitute Tanner Tessmann, allowing Honduras to see out the 2-1 final and punch their ticket to the summer Olympic games in Tokyo.
- 45'+4 - HON - Juan Carlos Obregon
- 47' - HON - Luis Palma
- 52' - US - Jackson Yueill
- THE BIG PICTURE: The young Yanks can't be faulted for their effort and they'll certainly rue the near-misses at the leveler they couldn't quite convert after Yueill's finish. In the end, none of that will be any consolation for head coach Jason Kreis and his group, who will look at this as a missed opportunity to make history.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: It may have been on the fluky side, but Palma's goal was the type of concession you really can't afford in a match like this. Ultimately, it was the goal that made the difference in the match and put an end to the US' qualifying campaign.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: We'll give it to Yueill, who was really the man of tournament for this group. The San Jose man's goal was a class strike, even in the losing effort.