Fans react after Christian Pulisic scores his third goal against Panama on March 27, 2022 in Orlando, Fla.
For the first time in 16 years, the U.S. is sending a men’s soccer team to the Olympics.
The U.S. qualified by defeating Honduras 3-0 in the semifinals of the Concacaf U-20 Championship on Friday night in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
After failing to qualify for the last three Olympic Games, the men’s soccer team now becomes the first U.S. team in any sport to secure a berth in the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
Men’s soccer has been held in every Olympic Games except one since 1900, and in 1992 it became an Under-23 tournament — with some exceptions. The U.S. men qualified for every Olympic soccer tournament from 1984 until 2000 but have reached the Games just once since then, in 2008 in Beijing.
In 2012, ’16 and ’20, the U.S. needed to win its semifinal at a Concacaf U-23 tournament in order to qualify. The Americans fell short of the semifinal round in 2012, then lost in the semifinals in both the 2016 and 2020 tournaments — falling to Honduras both times.
This time earning qualification through a U-20 tournament, the Americans took care of business.
After winning their group, the U.S. defeated Nicaragua 5-0 in the round of 16, then beat Costa Rica 2-0 in the quarterfinals on Tuesday to earn a berth to the FIFA U-20 World Cup. The big one was on Friday.
Paxten Aaronson, a midfielder who is one of four Philadelphia Union players on the team, got the U.S. on the board early, redirecting a free kick into the net in the third minute, and the Americans were off from there.
Alejandro Alvarado Jr. made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute, and then forward Quinn Sullivan, another Union player, scored his sixth goal of the tournament just before the half.
Goalie Christopher Brady needed to make just two saves in the shutout.
While Friday’s win secured the Olympic berth, the U.S. still has work to do in Honduras. The Americans meet the Dominican Republic in the tournament final on Sunday. The Dominicans qualified for their first Olympics in men’s soccer by defeating Guatemala in the earlier semifinal.
The loss also ends Honduras’ run of four straight Olympic appearances. Los Catrachos finished as high as fourth in 2016.