The United States went into to Monday's Group A finale knowing that a win and only a win would keep their Olympic dreams alive. They had to beat El Salvador to book a spot in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament and after 94 minutes, it looked like that is just what they had done. They were up 3-2 and seconds away from getting the win they needed, but then a speculative El Salvador shot skipped off the turf, off the hands of Sean Johnson and into the goal. El Salvador had managed a tie and the Americans' Olympic dream was dead.
It took less than a minute for the U.S. to get on the front foot. Brek Shea scampered down the left, avoiding several would-be defenders before crossing. Terrence Boyd got on the end of the ball and after a nifty finish, the U.S. was up, 1-0.
Despite going up early, the U.S. never looked completely confident and they were made to pay for their struggles in the midfield when El Salvador nabbed a couple goals. The first goal came off of a corner kick, which Lester Blanco got to and nodded home. Not long after, Bill Hamid was injured so when a slow shot found its way to the back post he couldn't get off of his line to claim it. That allowed Jorge Flores to tap it in and the Americans were behind 2-0.
As time went on and the hour mark passed, it looked like the U.S. was in trouble and that's when Freddy Adu made his mark. First, he slipped a well-weighted ball in for Boyd to finish and the Americans were even. Right after that, he cleared space for himself down the right and crossed to the back post where Joe Corona came flying in with a header that found the net and the U.S. were in front.
The U.S. held that lead until the waning minutes when El Salvador got the one long shot off. It should have bothered Johnson, who came on for the injured Hamid, but when he dove, it bounced off of his gloves and high into the air. When he came down it was under the bar and over the line, the death blow to the Americans' tournament hopes.