March 26, 2012
BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS
U.S. crashes out of Olympic qualifying
NASHVILLE, Tenn.----A stoppage time goal by Jaime Alas gave El Salvador a 3-3 tie and ended the United Statesí hopes for a trip to the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Alas slammed a ball into the penalty area that goalkeeper Sean Johnson got a piece of, but could not keep out of the net.
The goal put the final exclamation point on a seesaw battle that had each teamís chances of advancing to London changing with each goal.
After a stunning 2-0 loss to Canada on Saturday, the United States came out charged up, looking much like they had in a dominating performance over Cuba in the tournamentís first game. In just the first minute, Brek Shea charged down the left side to the endline, outmuscling one defender and beating two others before sending the ball back to the top of the six to Terrance Boyd. Boyd slammed a left footed volley into the net, and it looked like the U.S. were on their way.
El Salvador, however, stunned the U.S. with goals two minutes part to take a 2-1 lead. A corner kick by Jose Gutierrez was met with a glancing header by Mark Blanco in the 35th minute.
Just two minutes later, Alas sent a cross into the area from the left corner and Andres Flores broke past three ball-watching defenders to give El Salvador a 2-1 lead.
U.S. starting goalkeeper Bill Hamid, who was injured in the 32nd minute, and appeared hampered on the two goals, made way for Johnson in the 39th.
The United States tied the game in the 65th minute. Freddy Adu sent a ball forward to the top of the penalty area, and Boyd exploded onto it and fired a shot past El Salvador goalkeeper Yimmy Cuellar.
Much as had been done to them in the first half, the U.S. stunned the Salvadorans with a second goal less than two minutes later.
Adu controlled the ball on the right side of the 18 and sent a perfect cross to the far post, where Joe Corona slipped a header between Cuellar and the post.
The goal again changed the complexion of the game, with the U.S. needing a win to advance, and El Salvador only a tie.
The Salvadoransí desperation showed as Boyd was elbowed in the face, giving him a bloody nose and lip, but despite seven yellow cards in the game, no foul was even called.