The US continued to soldier on in their quest to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics taking on El Salvador. The game was an up and down roller coaster ride for US fans and the home team tied the game but lost out on qualifying. The score was tied at regulation, 3-3 and El Salvador will see the US eliminated from Olympic qualifying.
With an early goal from Terrence Boyd, the US looked to romp, as they did on Mexico in preseason and with Cuba in the opening match.
However, as the game went on, El Salvador began to take positive steps toward scoring the equalizer in the 35th minute by Mark Blanco. El Salvador followed up their first goal with the go ahead goal two minutes later by Andres Flores.
Then, about 20 minutes into the second half Terrence Boyd scored the equalizer for the yanks, and three minutes later Joe Corona followed up with the third goal of the night to put the US on top.
Tragically, however, a defensive mix up in midfield during the last minutes of added time allowed El Salvador’s Jaime Alas to break free and fire a shot on frame and US keeper Sean Johnson bobbled the late hop and caused the ball to spin out of control and into the net.
The lineups for both sides:
USA: 1-Bill Hamid (18-Sean Johnson, 39); 3-Kofi Sarkodie, 2-Ike Opara, 4-Perry Kitchen,13-Jorge Villafaña; 16-Amobi Okugo, 8-Mix Diskerud, 10-Joe Corona (20-Michael Stephens, 88); 7-Freddy Adu (capt.) (14-Joe Gyau, 90+3), 15-Terrence Boyd, 11-Brek Shea
Subs not used: 5-Zarek Valentin, 6-Jared Jeffrey, 12-Teal Bunbury, 17-Tony Taylor, 19-Sheanon Williams; Head coach: Caleb Porter
SLV: 18-Yimy Cuellar; 5-Alexander Mendoza, 4-Xavier Garcia (capt.), 2-Milton Molina, 13-Alexander Larin; 9-Isidro Gutierrez, 8-Diego Chavarria (19-Darwin Ceren, 73), 16-Richard Menjivar, 10-Jaime Alas; 20-Andres Flores, 17-Lester Blanco (14-Herbert Sosa, 87)
Subs not used: 1-Diego Cuellar, 3-Marlon Martinez, 6-Elman Rivas, 7-Dustin Corea, 12-Edwin Sanchez, 15-Jorge Moran; Head coach: Mauricio Alfaro
- United States came out like they had a point to prove and they did so in convincing fashion, scoring a wonderfully worked goal, but you can tell, as the half progressed the US began to look tired. It looked like their emotional state was so high that physically they could not keep up the demands of the moment.
- While the starting line up stayed the same, for the most part, two changes were made – Kofi Sarkodie came in at right back for Valentin, meanwhile, Villafana remained at left back deservedly. Additionally, Amobi Okugo was brought into the middle of the park to take over for a defensively ineffective Jared Jeffries.
- I was actually surprised to see that Tony Taylor did not get a run out in this competition, and feel that this was a perfect game for him to come in as a sub.
- Hamid, should have been subbed immediately after sustaining his injury – as a professional, he should have made the call himself to benefit his team and his country. From a coaching standpoint, Caleb Porter should have recognized the levity of the situation and made the change because too much was at stake. This would later play a significant role.
- El Salvador score two goals on an ailing Hamid and a tiring and apathetic defense.
- I still believe that Jared Jeffries should be turned into a center back and play alongside Ike Opara. Playing as a center back in this system requires you to be more technical and Perry Kitchen is by far the less technical player of the two starting center backs. Opara, on the other hand, clearly needs to mature professionally and deserved his time in defense with this squad but needs a more technical player alongside him.
- Freddy Adu knows how to take over a game and was greatly responsible for the two goals from Boyd and Corona. I just think this was not present in the first two games, it’s too bad he couldn’t put together a series of consistent performances.
- Porter made a couple of changes, I think would ultimately have dire consequences. First of all, he decided to sub out Joe Corona, for the second game in a row even though Corona was the leading goal scorer, and despite having a lackluster performance is still your best player on the ball, possession wise – I don’t even know why he would sub in a similar type player in Michael Stephens and not, say, Jared Jeffries ….. to provide some defensive cover in the midfield, which ultimately proved to be significant.
- Secondly, you sub out Adu and replace him with Joe Gayu which under any other circumstances, would appear to be offensive ….. in the latter stages of a critical cup qualifying game, are you looking to score more goals or preserve the lead?
- It was clear that the substitutions needed to be made up the center of the park with both Okugo and Diskerud being the obvious choice. El Salvador’s final goal was ultamitely scored because a player broke free in the midfield and was allowed to square up his body and take a go at it …. it was a tough situation to put a keeper in as evidenced in the results.
- Although Corona was tiring out, so too were is defensive cover in midfield, and I would rather bring in fresh legs on the defensive end, rather than making a questionable replacement for the number 10 and your team captain.
- Caleb Porter was unable to recognize an ultra defensive formation from Canada and failed to make the in-game adjustments in order to exploit their weaknesses. It was the Canada match where we saw this squad clearly move away from a style of play which had been instituted and enacted flawlessly against Cuba and Mexico.
- Too many questionable decisions from the manager, and too much lack of enthusiasm from the players resulted in two poor performances and elimination from from the tournament.
- To be fair, there were some players missing from this squad who could have made a significant difference, but I still believe Olympic qualifying was easily attainable and if I was to point to reasons for the unfavorable outcome, I’d say some poor decision making from a young and inexperienced manager proving to halt the momentum of a team on fire.
- When this squad plays the way they can, they are extremely talented and capable of producing some of the most attractive football the country has seen.