October 10, 2015
U.S. men fail to clinch Olympic berth in semifinal loss to Honduras, must win twice to reach Rio
SANDY, Utah -- If the United States men want to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, they will have to do it the hard way.
They missed an opportunity to book a spot at the Summer Games, dropping a 2-0 semifinal decision to Honduras in the CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship.
Striker Alberth Elis scored two goals -- one in each half -- lifting the Hondurans into their third consecutive Olympic tournament and fourth overall.
Los Catrachos will play the Mexico-Canada semifinal winner for the championship here Tuesday.
The Americans, who last qualified for the Olympics in 2008, now need to win two matches to reach Brazil.
They will meet the loser of that other semifinal in the third-place game Tuesday as they will try to keep its Olympic hopes alive. The victor of that match will play Colombia, the South American runner-up, in a playoff from March 21-29, 2016.
The Hondurans had the better opportunities in the opening half and that paid off in the 23rd minute. Defender Kevin Alvarez sent a right-wing cross to Alberth Elis in the penalty area. The Olimpia standout schested the ball down before he drilled an eight-yard shot to the left post past goalkeeper Ethan Horvath for a 1-0 lead.
The Americans pushed forward in the second half, opening up the game as both sides had more scoring chances.
Bryan Acosta sent a dangerous ball into the box that was deflected as Red Bulls center back Matt Miazga cleared out of harm's way in the 50th minute. Elis tried to add to his scoring total off a counterattack in the 62nd as he fired his attempt wide right.
The USA's best opportunity came on Luis Gil's corner kick in the 64th minute. Defender Cameron Carter-Vickers jumped over two Honduran defenders to head a point from point-blank range in the penalty area that goalkeeper Luis Lopez swatted away with his left hand.
Elis connected for his second goal of the match and tournament-best fifth in the 77th minute, slipping in a right-wing feed past Horvath.
Three minutes after the goal, Honduran assistant coach Jorge Luis Pinto was asked to leave the bench by game officials as the game turned more much physical by the final whistle.
USA striker Jordan Morris thought he had scored in the 83rd minute, but his goal to the left post was ruled offside.