Maybe it was a dream on my part to think that the US squad had any chance at a medal or to even get out of the group stage at the Olympics. Really, what was I thinking?
I should have rethought after the team barely scrapped by against a poor Japanese side, and I should have rethought after the team blew a lead in the next round on a stoppage time goal to the Netherlands.
But I guess I was too caught up in national pride.
I even set my mind to waking up at 4 a.m. to watch the team play Nigeria live. What was I thinking? Sure I did that during the World Cup in 2002, but that was a World Cup. This was the group stage of the Olympics. This is basically a U-23 tournament.
Somehow the US gave me hope that these players—the future of the country’s national team—were a special group and were capable of greatness.
I guess I was wrong.
Sure they put up a good fight. And that draw against the Dutch—no matter how heart-breaking—showed that the USA has risen to a level where they can at least compete against some of the best in the world.
I concretely believe that if it was not for the stupidity of Michael Orozco and his completely unnecessary elbow in the THIRD MINUTE that lead to a red card, the US would have at least managed a draw against Nigeria and advanced.
But it was silly errors like Stuart Holden’s foul that lead to the free-kick goal against the Dutch, Freddy Adu’s silly yellow card against the Dutch that ruled him out against Nigeria, and then the straw that broke the camel’s back was Orozco’s utter idiocy this morning.
When you are an underdog, you cannot make mistakes. And that is exactly the mistake the US made.
This team is very good, and many of these players will be on the senior national team before long, but they better learn from their mistakes.