Teresa M. Walker
NASHVILLE, Tennessee: Jaime Alas scored in stoppage time as El Salvador ousted the United States from Olympic qualifying Monday with a 3-3 draw.
The Americans had to win to reach Saturdayís semifinals in Kansas City, Kan., and they led 3-2 on Joe Coronaís goal in the 68th minute.
But Alas scored his goal off the hands off keeper Sean Johnson to stun the Americans, who missed the Olympics for the second time since 1976.
Several Americans dropped to the field in exhaustion and disbelief after the score.
El Salvador reached the semifinals, putting it a win away from its first Olympic berth since 1968. Canada, which drew Cuba 1-1 earlier, finished second. Lester Blanco and Andres Flores also scored for El Salvador.
Terrence Boyd scored twice for the U.S., and Johnson replaced keeper Bill Hamid in the 39th minute.
After a 2-0 loss to Canada in the second of this three-game, round-robin tournament, the Americans needed to win to advance.
So did El Salvador, and the crowd of 7,889 was about evenly split between the countries keeping the U.S. from a true home-field advantage at LP Field, home of the NFLís Tennessee Titans. El Salvador survived a physical game with plenty of yellow cards on each side.
The U.S. had a little bit of time left to try and go ahead but couldnít get anything going before the game ended. The result leaves the Americans adding 2012 to 2004 and 1976 as years they failed to qualify for the Olympics, missing out on a 15th appearance overall.
The Americans attacked from the start, Boyd scored 61 seconds into the game. Brek Shea dribbled out of three defenders and sent a cross over to Boyd who scored off a left-footed volley.
Hamid rolled covering up a ball and appeared to hurt his ankle midway through the first half.
El Salvador took advantage by scoring two goals in two minutes to grab the lead and the momentum. Blanco scored on a header off a corner over Hamidís hands in the 35th minute, and Flores beat Hamid in the 37th minute off what had been a weak shot by Alas that turned into a cross.
Boyd equalized with his second goal off a pass from captain Freddy Adu in the 65th minute. Joe Corona, whose mother is a native of El Salvador, scored off a header just inside the left post off a pass from Adu.
Johnson smothered one strong kick from Isidro Gutierrez but couldnít stop the ball when it mattered at the end.