Jurgen Klinsmann’s reputation as head coach goes on the line again tonight against Mexico, but his role as U.S. technical director took a hit on Saturday afternoon.
Alberth Elis scored a pair of goals as Honduras clinched an Olympic berth with a 2-0 win at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
The loss means the States will need to win the third-place game against the loser of Mexico vs. Canada, and then beat Colombia in the CONMEBOL-CONCACAF Olympic play-in game.
[ MORE: Ultimate guide to USMNT vs. Mexico ]
The U.S. were unbeaten in group play, winning Group A with a +11 goal differential while conceding just twice. Those numbers matter little after another monumental disappointment in Olympic qualifying (Caleb Porter’s unit failed to escape group play in 2011).
But Elis moved around Cameron Carter-Vickers to beat goalkeeper Ethan Horvath in the 25th minute to put the States behind the 8-ball in Utah.
The Olimpia man added a second goal from open play in the 77th minute to effectively seal the Americans’ fate.
Jordan Morris had a game-best four shots for the U.S., which is in extreme danger of missing the Olympics for a second-successive cycle. He was controversially called offside on a goal that could’ve made it 2-1.
An MLS-heavy lineup was controlled well by Honduras, excepting several link-ups between Morris (Stanford) and Jerome Kiesewetter (Stuttgart).
Things took a bizarre turn late, as U.S. coach Andreas Herzog and Honduras boss Jorge Luis Pinto were forced off the pitch with red cards.
U.S. XI: Horvath; Okwuonu, Miazga, Carter-Vickers, Pelosi; Polster, Trapp, Hyndman; Gil; Kiesewetter, Morris
Subs used: Alashe, Ariyibi, Hernandez Garcia.