SANDY, Utah – A massive day for U.S. Soccer started in disappointment, as the U-23s failed in their quest to automatically qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
Andi Herzog’s team suffered a 2-0 defeat to Honduras Saturday afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. Los Catrachos sealed their place in Rio de Janiero via a brace from Alberth Elis, relegating the U.S. to the third-place match, which they will have to win to set up a playoff against Colombia in what would be their final Olympic lifeline.
The US were sloppy and rushed from the opening whistle and Honduras applied pressure at the right times to force the Yanks into a number of uncomfortable situations. Cameron Carter-Vickers, in particular, had a rocky first 45 minutes, and the Tottenham Hotspur centerback saw his man score the opener.
Honduras right back Kevin Alvarez sent a cross into the box where it found Elis. The Olimpia man took a touch to his right to lose Carter-Vickers and blasted a rocket just past Ethan Horvath’s shoulder and into the net.
The US mustered only a single shot on frame the entire first half, and Herzog wasted no time making his first substitution of the game, removing Boyd Okwuonu and inserting Gboly Ariyibi at the half in order to shift to a 4-3-3.
Honduras goalkeeper Luis Lopez made an amazing save in the 63rd minute after Carter-Vickers got on the end of Dillon Serna’s corner kick. The Honduran goalkeeper stretched out and barely got a hand to the header, knocking it up and over the crossbar.
Elis scored his second of the match and fourth of the tournament in the 77th minute. The game deteriorated from there, as Herzog was sent off and both sides struggled to keep their composure. A set-piece goal from Jordan Morris was incorrectly ruled offside in the 83rd minute.
The US will now prepare to face either Mexico or Canada in the third-place match on Tuesday.