After defeating Cuba 6-0 on Thursday, it seemed the United States figured the job was already finished as they stepped out onto the pitch in Nashville on Saturday afternoon to face Canada in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying. What happened was the Canadians sent the complacent US U23 side crashing to a comprehensive 2-0 defeat, forcing a winner-take-all showdown with El Salvador on Monday to decide who goes to the semifinals as the #2 qualifier. Monday's winner will likely then face Mexico in a game for all the marbles and a berth for the 2012 London Olympics.
A pretty terrible day all around for US Soccer and one that I only caught the last ten minutes of so since I can't say too much, I'll let others talk for me.
Brek Shea: Shea looked strong and aggressive early. His 24th-minute cross was perfectly placed for a far-post runner, but his teammates were nowhere to be found. Shea scuffed a one-on-one chance in the 67th minute, but he was consistently involved in the action, and fought relentlessly to try to create something. Rating: 6
JR Eskilson & Travis Clark also had game grades for Top Drawer Soccer
Brek Shea, 4 -- Shea's performance wasn't all on him, as he spent long stretches of the game wide open on the flanks with no one able to get him the ball. Showed flashes at times, but wasn't the impact player this game needed.
A couple thoughts on some good news and some bad news about today's proceedings after the jump
First up is the bad news. Olympic qualifying, even if the United States make it, is going to take a major toll on Brek Shea, to the tune of four games in ten days should the US get past El Salvador. Brek was hardly taxed at all in the Cuba game, but tonight was 90 hard minutes against a focused Canada team and the same will likely be the case on Monday.
Should the United States advance to the semifinals it's another extremely difficult game, likely against Mexico on Saturday. Brek has shown to have amazing resilience, but I think it's extremely optimistic to think he comes back at 100% for the Thursday home game against New England in a couple weeks time.
The good news, though this would be disputed by some(I'm looking at you Fennsk), is that from a club over country perspective, Shea may not be gone for 6 weeks in the summer after all. Of course, I think everyone would be extremely disappointed if Brek and the United States don't qualify for the Olympics, but there is certainly a silver lining to the situation. It's going to be an interesting week upcoming for the U23s.