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U.S. Olympic bid thwarted

Tue., March 27, 2012

Stoppage-time goal does in Americans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Jaime Alas scored in stoppage time and El Salvador ousted the United States from Olympic qualifying Monday night with a 3-3 tie.

The Americans had to win to reach Saturday’s semifinals in Kansas City, Kan., and they led 3-2 on Joe Corona’s goal in the 68th minute.

But Alas scored off the hands of keeper Sean Johnson to stun the Americans, who missed the Olympics for the second time since 1976. Several Americans dropped to the field in exhaustion and disbelief after the score.

El Salvador reached the semifinals, putting it a win away from its first Olympic berth since 1968. Canada, which tied Cuba 1-1 earlier, finished second. Lester Blanco and Andres Flores also scored for El Salvador.

Terrence Boyd scored twice for the U.S., and Johnson replaced keeper Bill Hamid in the 39th minute after El Salvador scored twice in two minutes.

After a 2-0 loss to Canada in the second of the three-game, round-robin, the Americans needed to win to advance.

So did El Salvador, and the crowd of 7,889 was about evenly split between the countries keeping the U.S. from a true home-field advantage at LP Field, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. El Salvador survived a physical game with plenty of yellow cards on each side.

The U.S. had a little time left to try and get the go-ahead goal, but couldn’t get anything going before the game ended.

The result leaves the Americans adding 2012 to 2004 and 1976 as years they failed to qualify for the Olympics, missing out on a 15th appearance.

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