That is the solely possible way to describe it. This was one other full, complete, plain failure.
For the third consecutive qualifying cycle, the U.S. Under-23 males’s nationwide group capitulated with an Olympic spot on the line.
Another 12 months, one other disaster and this one will sting simply as a lot as the ones that got here earlier than it.
This time round, it was a 2-1 loss to Honduras that proved to be the U.S.’ demise, the latest backbreaking blow in what has grow to be a lengthy line of them.
This program fell quick once more, with yet one more epic collapse at the worst attainable second.
The particulars behind that collapse are advanced. There are causes to clarify it, some legitimate and a few not. But these causes aren’t essential on this state of affairs.
What issues is that, even with the U.S. in the midst of a budding golden technology proving itself worthy in Europe, they’re nonetheless struggling to care for enterprise in their very own yard when it actually counts.
“Obviously, we’re devastated, absolutely devastated in the locker room,” stated head coach Jason Kreis. “It’s like a tragedy.
“We all wished this so badly for so many alternative causes, and I believe it could possibly be that generally when you need it too dangerous, you place your self in a place the place you may’t carry out to the stage wanted.
“At the end of the day, I just don’t think we had enough.”
The U.S. definitely didn’t have sufficient on Sunday, with Honduras deserved winners who greater than earned their very own Olympic spot. They booked their ticket to Tokyo by irritating a U.S. group that not solely lacked the high quality to open the sport up however, at instances, the angle.
Throughout Sunday’s match, the U.S. appeared sluggish and torpid. Even as the odds started to stack towards them, solely a few gamers, particularly captain Jackson Yueill, really stepped up to the second whereas trying to finish years and years of heartbreak at this stage.
In the finish, that didn’t occur.
It started simply moments earlier than half-time, with simply a few seconds remaining in what was a tepid and sluggish first half. Suddenly, although, the ball was in the again of the U.S. internet, bundled house by Juan Carlos Obregon Jr.
That, although, was solely the opening act for what proved to be the actual soul-crushing mistake.
Goalkeeper David Ochoa, arguably the group’s finest participant all through this event, made his first actual error at the worst attainable second.
With the ball at his ft, Ochoa’s try to play out from the again shortly become a catastrophe as the ‘keeper smashed a move off Honduras’ Luis Palma and straight into the again of his personal internet simply moments into the second half.
From there, there have been moments that offered hope, Yueill’s lengthy-vary aim included. But that proved a small comfort from a calamitous day for a group that merely couldn’t get it finished.
Because of that, there might be loads of fingerpointing in the wake of yet one more qualifying mess.
Blame will fall on Kreis, whose decision to leave behind players such as Jeremy Ebobisse and Eryk Williamson have looked worse by the day. The U.S. head coach may even earn criticism for his ways, as Kreis’ try to place sq. pegs in spherical holes definitely contributed to this end result.
Blame may even fall on the gamers, who merely failed to step up and battle at a time the place they’d no different selection. Aside from one good half against the Dominican Republic, this U.S. group merely by no means appeared like they’d the high quality or creativity to break down even common opposition.
And, in fact, the blame will go in the direction of the circumstances, with the U.S. group left shorthanded by a mixture of USMNT commitments and golf equipment being unwilling to launch gamers for this occasion.
The U.S. had 15 Olympic-eligible gamers watching on from USMNT camp in Belfast, with two others, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams, amongst the ones that may have been there in regular instances.
But, in the finish, blame could be unfold in each course, and rightfully so. This was a program-large failure. Another one.
“I look, first and foremost at myself,” Kreis stated, “and think back about the decisions that were made about the roster, about the form of the players that were coming in, the players that weren’t here, of course, absolutely. Anybody that knows anything about me knows that I point a finger at myself first.
“Having stated that, it is a collective effort. It wasn’t simply me making these choices, however I’m greater than keen and ready to take the brunt of the blame.”
This was a missed opportunity. It was a chance for young players to earn a spot on the big stage. It was a chance for the U.S. program to reassert itself as a CONCACAF powerhouse after the failures of previous Olympic cycles and, most recently, the 2018 World Cup qualifying run.
Perhaps most importantly, this was an opportunity to show that things were moving forward, an opportunity to win back some of the public’s trust in an Olympic competition that even the most casual American fan will care about.
The U.S. program will move on quickly, especially with World Cup qualifiers on the horizon. There are brighter days ahead, and this mess does little to dampen the excitement that surrounds the USMNT and all of the bright young stars currently emerging overseas.
Until then, though, this will sting as yet another cycle’s worth of players fell short.
“Ultimately it is my very sturdy feeling that there are extraordinarily good gamers with extraordinarily excessive potential in that room,” Kreis said. “There are younger gamers they usually want to proceed to develop, proceed to study, proceed to transfer ahead.
“It’s a fact of life that you lose more than you win. And it’s always going to be about who gets up and moves forward the quickest, because these disappointments happen in your life over and over and over again. You have no choice but to move forward, and I hope that these players do that.”
Someday, perhaps, Kreis’ adage might be confirmed unsuitable. Someday perhaps the U.S. will flip these backbreaking losses into wins most of the time.
But that day was not Sunday, and the group’s Olympic dream died due to it.