An Olympic collaspe by the U.S. men’s soccer team

The United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) is not getting the job done. And they have not done so in quite a while. So, after the USMNT’s 2-1 defeat to Honduras in an Olympic qualifying match, the obvious question is this: What’s next?

This is the third time in a row that the USMNT did not qualify for the Olympics. And so the waiting game continues for USMNT. They’ll have to wait for another three years to qualify for the Olympics. The USMNT has not been to the Olympics since the summer of 2008. Now that’s a very long time. So what’s the problem?

Since the team first appeared in their first Olympics in 1992, the USMNT has only participated in four out of eight Olympics. In 2028, they get to automatically participate in the Summer Olympics because the United States is hosting the Olympics. While that timeline is still off in the distant future, there is always the 2022 World Cup that the USMNT can squeeze into to make amends of their repeated failures when it comes to international competition.

The highest position the USMNT has ever had in the Olympics is fourth place. The team has never earned a gold medal. Cracking the medal-qualifying space of gold, silver, and bronze has proved to be elusive for the men’s national team. Their lowest finish at the Olympics? A 10th place showing.

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The US Men’s National Team practices at SAS Soccer in Cary, NC on April 10, 2006, ahead of their match against Jamaica. Courtesy photo

The breakdown for the U.S. men’s national team’s inability to be a dominant force in global competition such as qualifying for the Olympics could be the way the squad is configured in the first place. And this may explain away why there is a stark difference between the men’s and women’s national teams. Olympic rules have that men’s soccer players must go by the age-restrictive 23-and under guidelines.

The U.S. Women National Team does not that age limit placed on them. The U.S. men soccer only uses players that are U23 instead of the senior team that is USMNT. They should use the senior team for the Olympics instead of U23 because they easily have a hard time qualifying for the Olympics and winning gold medals.

The U.S. men’s national team has three of the best players under 23 that could have helped the U23 squad qualify for the Summer Olympics. The players are Christian Pulisic (22), Sergino Dest (20), and Giovanni Reyna (18). Pulisic, Dest and Reyna would have helped USMNT qualify for the Olympics if they were part of the squad and the starting 11.

If Pulisic, Dest and Reyna were part of the U.S. men’s U23 team they would have made it a good possibility for America to be in a position to claim a medal, including gold. In this writer’s opinion, the opportunity of not placing Pulisic, Dest and Reyna on the team is mostly the fault of the general manager.

The U.S. women’s soccer team is allowed to use players that are on the senior team. Since 1996, the U.S. women’s team has been to every Olympics. Even though the U.S. men’s national team made their first Olympics in 1992, the women are doing much better.

Since the U.S. women’s national team qualified for their first Olympics they have participated in every one since. They are also doing very well in the Olympics better than men because the US women have won almost every gold medal. The USWNT has won four gold medals (1996, 2004, 2008, 2012). In 2016, the USWNT finished fifth at the Olympics. That’s a lot better than what the men’s team has done.

At the 2008 Olympics, the U.S. men featured future stars that are Michael Bradley, for Maurice Edu, Stuart Holden, Charlie Davies, Benny Feilhaber, Jozy Altidore, Freddy Adu, and Brad Guzan. The eight players were supposed to help the men’s national team win a gold medal but did not.

When the U.S. men’s national team suffered that defeat to Honduras they had a terrible game because they didn’t perform very well at the Concacaf Olympic qualifying tournament. There is no excuse for US men getting eliminated for the Olympics because they are a good team with some really good players and should qualify for every soccer tournament.

For many years, according to USA Today, “Olympic men’s soccer has been an under-23 tournament since 1992. With qualifying and the Olympics postponed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, FIFA kept the requirement that players be born Jan. 1, 1997, or later.”

The 20-man U.S. squad didn’t have any attacking midfielders, including five players that played more defensive midfield roles. This is the reason the team struggled against Honduras. When the USMNT played against Honduras, the team looked disinterested and the players looked like they weren’t even trying to get the ball.

Looking at the game, it appears that the USMNT didn’t work together collectively to win. After losing to Honduras, USMNT coach Jason Kreis had this to say about the defeat.

“We are devastated, the locker room is a tragedy. We all wanted to achieve the goal but at the end of the day, I think we did not have much.”