March 29 (UPI) — The United States watched its hopes of appearing in the 2021 Summer Olympics evaporate with a 2-1 loss to Honduras in a matchup between under-23 men’s national teams in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Honduras led 1-0 at halftime and built a 2-0 lead in the second half of the Olympic qualifier Sunday at Jalisco Stadium. Left wing Jackson Yueill cut the deficit in half in the 52nd minute, but the U.S. couldn’t equalize down the stretch.
“We are absolutely devastated. The locker room is a tragedy,” U.S. manager Jason Kreis told reporters. “We all wanted this so bad for so many different reasons. … At at the end of the day, I just don’t think we had enough.”
Juan Carlos Obregon and Luis Palma scored to clinch Honduras’ spot in the Summer Games, scheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8 in Tokyo.
Brazil won the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil. Mexico won the 2012 Summer Games in England. Argentina won the gold medal in 2008 in China. The U.S. failed to advance out of the group stage in its last Olympics appearance in 2008.
Olympic men’s soccer guidelines have required players to be under 23 years old for tournament play since 1992.
“We all had so much pent-up angst and wanted it so badly and we couldn’t quite relax in the moments we needed to,” Kreis said. “It was a little strange. These are young players that need to continue to improve.”
The U.S. men’s senior national team also failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and is in the process of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. The U.S. senior squad has automatically qualified for the 2026 World Cup, due to its status as host of the tournament.
The senior team is No. 22 in the FIFA world rankings.