When the U.S. U-23 crashed and burned out of the Olympic qualifying tournament, many considered it a black mark on the state of American soccer. That team was made up of some of the best young talent in the American system – many of whom play for MLS. The failure of that team to even get to the knockout round seemed to indicate to many that U.S. Soccer, and specifically MLS, was failing.
Thank God for Honduras.
This past Sunday, Honduras defeated medal favorite Spain 1-0, thus effectively knocking Spain out of the tournament. Three players from MLS were on the field for the little CONCACAF nation that could. Andy Najar from DC United, Roger Espinoza from Sporting KC, and ultimately Jerry Bengston from the New England Revolution connected for the lone notch of the match that sent one of the tournment’s heavy favorites out of contention.
It would be foolish to claim MLS is now that much closer to the top leagues in Europe based on this result. Big upsets are quite common in big tournaments. However, with the U.S. Men’s team crashing out still fresh in the memories of MLS fans, seeing a CONCACAF squad riding the performances of MLS players to a victory against such a daunting opponent reduces the sting just a little.
Of course, the US has much more to celebrate in this Olympic tournament, including the play of the USWNT. We delve into that and more after the jump:
- The U.S. Women’s team overcame a poor start to the Olympics after going down 2-0 in their opener against France. After an impressive 4-2 come from behind victory, they haven’t looked back.
The women cruised through their group going 3-0-0 finishing with a 1-0 victory over North Korea. American fans should expect the squad to medal. Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Abby Wambach are once again leading the high octane offense while enigmatic Hope Solo holds a steady line between the sticks.
Speaking of Wambach, the Colombian player who sucker punched her, Lady (in name only) Andrade, has been banned for two matches. Regardless, Colombia was defeated by France, eliminating them from the tournament.
No word yet on when Andrade will serve the second game of her suspension.
- In other ‘good for MLS’ news, the MLS All Stars defeated Chelsea 3-2. The scoreline can be picked apart from many angles. Is it more of a disadvantage to be in preseason form like Chelsea or to have zero time to build chemistry like the MLS All Stars did?
That being said, the fact that the All Stars could hang with Chelsea is a good sign as to the quality of the league’s top talent.