U.S. men’s soccer team misses Olympics again, longest drought in 50 years

Honduras v USA - 2020 Concacaf Men's Olympic Qualifying Semifinals
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The U.S. men’s soccer team failed to qualify for a third consecutive Olympics, its longest drought between Olympic appearances in more than 50 years.

Honduras beat the U.S. 2-1 in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match to climax a CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament for players 24 and younger in Mexico on Sunday.

“It’s a tragedy,” U.S. coach Jason Kreis said.

Honduras, a nation with the population of Michigan, also beat the U.S. in an Olympic qualifier for the 2016 Rio Games.

The U.S. men last played in the Olympics in 2008, when an 18-year-old Freddy Adu scored the clinching goal in qualifying. They will miss three consecutive Olympics for the first time since 1960, 1964 and 1968 — a stretch where the U.S. also didn’t appear in any World Cup from 1954 through 1986.

The U.S. senior team also failed to qualify for the last World Cup in 2018, but has since developed a bevy of young talent. Most of those players were young enough for Olympic qualifying, but none of the notables from top European leagues were named to the roster.

That’s at least in part because clubs are not required to release players for two-week Olympic qualifying (the U.S. also had a pre-tournament training camp that began March 1).

However, some of those stars were absent from their clubs this past week for senior national team friendlies in Europe against Jamaica and Northern Ireland, including captain Christian Pulisic of Chelsea, Sergiño Dest of Barcelona and Gio Reyna of Borussia Dortmund.

That created a moving sight on Sunday night — prominent U.S. players gathered not on a soccer field in Guadalajara, but in a Belfast room watching the Honduras match on a screen after midnight.

The U.S.’ only Olympic men’s soccer medals came at the 1904 St. Louis Games, when all participants won medals as only three club teams from Canada and the U.S. competed.

The Olympic men’s soccer tournament field includes most of the world powers representing eight of the last nine World Cup winners.

Japan
France
Germany
Spain
Romania
Argentina
Brazil
Egypt
Ivory Coast
South Africa
Australia
Saudi Arabia
South Korea
New Zealand
Honduras
Mexico

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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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