Olympic fever is at an understandable high right now in the United States. People from all corners of the country are tuning into their televisions to see how their compatriots are faring in a number of sports, whether it be basketball, tennis, volleyball, swimming, gymnastics, or something else.
One sport that American men are not competing in, however, is soccer.
The US Under-23 men's national team did not reach the summer games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this summer due to their inability to capitalize on qualification opportunities. The Americans had two direct chances to punch their tickets through, but failed each time. First was via a shock 2-0 loss to Honduras in the semifinals round of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying last October, and then in a 3-2 aggregate defeat to Colombia in an Olympic playoff this past March.
While the US simply ran up against a more talented foe in the Colombians, they only had themselves to blame for having gotten to that point. The Americans, as they usually are, were heavy favorites to claim one of CONCACAF's two guaranteed Olympic berths, but their big disappointment in the semifinals of last year's qualifying tournament on home soil meant that Honduras, as well as Mexico, advanced.
For the US as a team as well as a soccer nation, not competing in the Olympics is a blow. The Americans not only missed a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take part in the tournament, but also failed to get exposure in an international competition that would help them in their development and potentially serve as a launchpad for their careers.
US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann had stated the importance of competing in the Olympics in the lead-up to the qualification process, especially after also failing to make it to the 2012 edition in the United Kingdom, but even with better preparations the American men could not accomplish their goal of making it to Brazil.
Now soccer supporters and sports fans in general stateside are left to wait another four years to potentially see the US men compete in another Olympics. The last time they did so was in 2008, when a team that included Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Sacha Kljestan, Robbie Rogers, and Maurice Edu put up a good fight in China before going out in the group stage.