USA Men's Soccer Fails to Qualify for 2021 Tokyo Olympics After Loss to Honduras

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2021

United States' coach Jason Kreis walks on the sideline during a Concacaf Men's Olympic qualifying championship semi-final soccer match against Honduras in Guadalajara, Mexico, Sunday, March 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
Fernando Llano/Associated Press

The United States men's national soccer team won't be competing at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

While the senior men's squad defeated Northern Ireland 2-1 in a friendly, the under-23 side lost 2-1 to Honduras in the semifinals of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament. As a result, the U.S. failed to qualify.


No Tokyo Olympics for the USMNT. Honduras defeats them 2-1 to qualify. https://t.co/jpzAVyDjgd

Juan Carlos Obregon got the first goal for Honduras, and Luis Palma doubled their lead in the 47th minute. Jackson Yueill halved the deficit, but the U.S. couldn't find an equalizer in the match held in Mexico.

In general, the Olympics is well down the pecking order in terms of men's competitions because it's largely a youth tournament. Coaches are limited to selecting up to three players who are over the age requirement, which has been raised to 24 this summer due to delaying the Olympic Games by one year.

As a result, most of the USMNT's biggest stars wouldn't have made the trip to Tokyo.

Having said that, the Olympics is a great opportunity for younger players to gain valuable experience on a world stage. And the United States men's team is now going to miss its third straight Olympics.

B/R Football @brfootball

London 2012 ❌ Rio 2016 ❌ Tokyo 2020 ❌ The United States lose 2-1 to Honduras and will miss out on a third straight Olympic men’s tournament. https://t.co/5NblpsGgZR

The future of the USMNT is bright, with an increasing number of Americans plying their trade abroad. Valencia midfielder Yunus Musah's decision to represent the United States was seen as a minor coup as well.

But simply qualifying for the World Cup isn't enough anymore, even after the U.S. missed the 2018 edition altogether. The country is no longer the relative minnow against the global elite it was when it qualified for the 1990 World Cup.

One could argue the USMNT's recent Olympic record—or lack thereof—is indicative of larger institutional failings within U.S. Soccer. Watching Christian Pulisic blossom in Germany or having Musah and Sergino Dest select the United States over other countries at the international level is great, but those factors don't collectively mean the U.S. has become adept at developing talent.

Sunday's loss was another reality check.