U.S. downs Canada to open Olympic men’s soccer qualifying

Jordan Morris
AP
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KANSAS CITY — The U.S.’ Olympic qualifying quest got off to a strong start Thursday night, as Andi Herzog‘s squad knocked off Canada 3-1 at Sporting Park.

Jordan Morris bagged a brace, his fourth and fifth U-23 U.S. national team goals of the calendar year, on a night that saw the not-so-baby Yanks race out to an early lead, defend for their lives for the better part of 45 minutes, score a second goal against the run of play and concede shortly thereafter to keep the final result in doubt until a third goal secured all three points.

The U.S. must advance from its four-team group as one of the top two sides and win an Oct. 10 semifinal in Sandy, Utah, to automatically qualify for the Olympics.

If it loses its semifinal, it can still make it to Rio if it wins the CONCACAF third-place game on Oct. 13 in Sandy and then beats Colombia in a later playoff.

The U.S. men failed to qualify for the Athens 2004 and London 2012 Olympics and last won an Olympic medal in 1904.

Up next for the U.S. will be Cuba at Sporting Park (Watch live, Saturday, 5 p.m. ET on Telemundo). Canada will face the other half of Thursday night’s opener, a 1-1 draw, Panama at 2:30 p.m. ET.

On Thursday, the Americans took an early lead before Canada had their first touch of the ball. Jerome Kiesewetter raced down the right wing and whipped a dangerous cross to the top of the six-yard box, where Morris was waiting. The 20-year-old collegiate star rose above his marker and headed the ball home with ease.

Kiesewetter continued his tormenting of Canada in the 21st minute, when he was once again released down the right wing, cut inside on Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare and unleashed a left-footed strike that looked destined to nestle itself inside the far post. If not for the outstretched paw of Maxime Crepeau, it would have been 2-0.

Canada began the second half on the front foot, much like the final 15 minutes of the first. Wil Trapp, Emerson Hyndman and Fatai Alashe, the U.S.’ three deepest-sitting midfielders, were guilty of a number of turnovers inside their own half of the field, which made short work for ensuing Canadian counters. Quality of the final ball was clearly lacking, though, as U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen faced just one shot on goal to open the second period, a slow-roller from Caleb Clarke.

[ MORE: Get to know the current USMNT U-23 squad ]

The U.S.’ first chance in nearly 30 minutes came courtesy of a perfectly weighted through ball from Hyndman to Kiesewetter down the same right side. The Berlin-born 22-year-old raced into the penalty area and fired for the far post, only to see Crepeau come make the stop once again.

Steffen was called into action again in the 68th minute following another careless American turnover. Cristopher Mannella cut inside from the right wing and hit a tame, curling shot for the far post, but the 20-year-old Freiburg keeper sprang to his right and held the ball well.

Morris bagged his second of the night when he raced behind the Canadian backline in the 73rd minute. Trapp played a delicately chipped through ball over the top, Morris beat Luca Gasparotto to the ball, held off the Toronto FC II defender and finished with great composure between the legs of Crepeau.

https://twitter.com/CONCACAF/status/649776097391833088

Canada pulled back to within a single in the 81st minute, as Michael Petrasso‘s flicked header following Mannella’s in-swinging corner kick eluded a frozen-in-place Steffen and snuck just inside the far post.

https://twitter.com/CONCACAF/status/649778066554617857

Luis Gil capped off the night’s scoring from the penalty spot in the 92nd minute. Gagnon-Lapare’s last-gasp, sliding challenge brought Kiesewetter down inside the box moments earlier.

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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein
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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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