The United States qualified for its first men’s Olympic soccer tournament since 2008 when the Americans beat Honduras 3-0 at San Pedro Sula on Friday night in the semi-finals of the North, Central American and Caribbean U-20 Championships.
Philadelphia Union’s 18-year-old Paxton Aaronson, who is the brother of Leeds midfielder Brenden Aaronson, scored in the third minute.
Alejandro Alvarado, who made four appearances last season for Portugal’s Vizilla, added a goal in the 23rd minute, and Aaronson’s Philadelphia teammate Quinn Sullivan scored a goal in 43rd place as the United States secured a place in the 16-nation stadium in the 2024 Olympic tournament. in France.
Men’s Olympic soccer is limited to players under the age of 23, with each country allowed three wild cards over the limit. After the United States failed in three consecutive qualifying rounds as many clubs refused to make their best players available, the CONCACAF zone changed the U-23 qualifiers and included them as part of the U-20 Championship.
The United States were eliminated from the 2012 Olympic qualifiers when Shawn Johnson allowed goalie Jaime Alas to overpower his hands in second-half injury time, giving El Salvador a 3-3 draw in the U.S. group stage final.
The Americans lost a 2016 Olympic qualifier to El Salvador 2-0, then lost 3-2 to Colombia in a two-game playoff for another place.
The United States lost to Honduras 2-1 in last year’s Olympic qualifier when goalkeeper David Ochoa gifted a goal as he slashed an opponent into his own net.
The Dominican Republic also settled for a spot, beating Guatemala 4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw.
The four CONCACAF quarter-final winners also qualified for the 24-team squad for next year’s U-20 World Cup, which will take place from May 20 to June 11 in Indonesia.