By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
U.S. Men Eliminated From Olympics
MIAMI — The United States Men’s Olympic team has been eliminated from the competition after losing 2-1 to Nigeria in their preliminary round finale.
Having won their opener against Japan 1-0 on a Stuart Holden goal then surrendering an injury time goal and settlingfor a 2-2 draw against favorites Netherlands, the US was unable to over come a Michael Orozco red card in the third minute of the match and played the remainder with just 10 men.
The US played these matches with an unexpected lineup.Many expected Jozy Altidore to partner Brian McBride at forward but McBride was the focal point of the offense while Altidore came off the bench in the second half of each of the first two matches, starting the third.
Maurice Edu also was in a not-so-familiar role, playing in the middle of defense with Michael Parkhurst as opposed to his more familiar role as a defensive midfielder.
Right back, Marvell Wynne was instrumental in the first match, attacking with consistency along the flank and setting up the game winning goal by beating a down the sideline, whipping in a cross that was deflected out to Holden.
The second match against the Netherlands saw the same US bring out the same line up but fall behind in the first half to a goal by Liverpool’s Ryan Babel.The US got after it in the second half with Freddy Adu playing extremely well, orchestrating the US attack which finally produced an equalizer in the 64th minute. Adu was involved as he and Sacha Kljestan worked a give and go, freeing up the latter for a superbly taken goal.The US later took a late lead as Michael Orozco took advantage of a scramble in front of goal and a nice pass from Bradley to send in a low cross that was slammed home by an on rushing Altidore, who had come on in the 65th minute.
However the injury time goal to conceded to Gerald Sibon after a free kick would ultimately be their undoing in their match against 1996 gold medalists, Nigeria.
The US needed a win or tie against Nigeria to advance to the quarterfinals. However, they had to do so without Adu and Michael Bradley both of whom were suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
Then just three minutes into the match Orzoco elbowed Solomon Okoronkwo and reduced the US side to repelling attack after attack from the Nigerians with little chance of sustaining any offense. The US first real chance came from a surging run by Wynn down the right side but his centering pass to an onrushing McBride was easily intercepted.
The Nigerians got the break through they were looking for in the 39th minute when Ogbuke Obasi abused Parkhurst with a spin move along the base line and delivered a pin point pass to Promise Isaac to tap in.
The US continued to labor defensively throughout the second half but with the introduction of Benny Feilhaber for Altidore,the US had more sustained possession in the midfield.However, they never really truly tested GK Ambruse Vanzekin while US GK Brad Guzan was called upon to make a 66th minute save.
However Guzan was unable to stop the second goal as Victor Obinna curled in a beautiful goal from left to right after eluding Parkhurst.
The US now needed a miracle as Holland was beating Japan 1-0 which would give them the second spot behind Nigeria and the quarterfinal berth.But the US staged a furious comeback.Maurice Edu was felled in the area by an inexplicable challenge by Vanzekin and Kljestan converted the ensuing penalty in the 80th minute.
Charlie Davies was brought on, making an immediate impact running at defenders and creating chances.Davies almost delivered the equalizer in the second minute of extra time, heading a Dax McCarty free kick on to the cross bar.However, that was the last real chance for the Americans and the match ended, 2-1.Hard work and determination were never going to be enough with 10 men. With insufficient individual skill on the field thanks to Adu and Bradley’s the task was nearly impossible. The US should be moving on but instead the playersare headed back to their respective clubs.
The Nigerians for their part are on to the quarterfinals thanks to this win, a0-0 with the Netherlands in their opening match and a 2-1 win over Japan thanks to goals from Obinna Nsofor (58′)and Victor Anichebe (74′).
They will face Cote D’Ivoire who finished second to defending champions Argentina in their group. Looking for its first medal, the West Africans rebounded from a 2-1 opening match loss to Argentina with a 4-2 win over Serbia then beat Australia to advance.2000 Gold medalists Cameroon are also through to the quarterfinals. They drew their opening match with S. Korea 1-1, topped Honduras 1-0 on a Stephan Mbia goal in the 74th minute then wrapped up second place in their group behind Italy with a 0-0 draw despite playing the 32 minutes with only 10 men.
They’ill face Brazil in the next round ina rematch of their 2000 quarterfinal match.