Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore had a system: Altidore would draw the foul and Adu would connect on the free kick.
In the end, the scheme proved solid as the United States men's under-23 soccer team earned a trip to the Olympics in Beijing by defeating Canada 3-0 in the semifinals of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament at LP Field on Thursday night.
It was redemption for the Americans, who finished fourth in the 2000 Sydney Olympics — the best American men's showing in history — but missed out on the 2004 Athens games, losing a regional semifinal to Mexico.
"The Olympics is great," said Adu, who scored the first two U.S. goals, bringing his total to a tournament-leading four. "It's an honor to represent your country at such a great event."
Before going to Beijing, the U.S. men will face Honduras — 1-0 shootout winner over Guatemala in Thursday's other semifinal — in the CONCACAF tournament final at 4 p.m. Sunday at LP Field. Guatemala and Canada will play for third place at 1 p.m.
Honduras and Guatemala went through 90 minutes of regulation and two 15-minute overtimes before Guatemala's Rafael Morales sent a shot over the crossbar in the seventh round of the shootout to give Honduras the victory.
Honduras and the U.S. earned the region's two spots in the 16-team Olympic tournament. The Beijing games begin on Aug. 6.
The U.S. can thank Adu and Altidore.
With a crowd of 13,201 looking on, the feisty, fleet-footed Altidore drew his first foul in the 26th minute when he was knocked down as he tried to maneuver around Canada's Nikolas Ledgerwood.
The Americans were awarded a free kick, and Adu scored in the 27th minute when he sent a left-footed strike curving toward the goal from 22 yards out.
Canadian keeper Joshua Wagenaar made contact with the ball as it looped through the defense, but his fingertips could not change its direction and the ball snuck inside the right post and hit the back of the net for a 1-0 U.S. lead.
"He's a clinician at that stuff," Canada Coach Nick Dasovic said of Adu.
Altidore set up a similar situation just three minutes into the second half when Canada's Nathan Sturgis stuck his left leg out, tripping the forward just outside the box. Sturgis was given a yellow card, and Adu set up for another free kick.
This time the talented 18-year-old chipped a shot over Canada's defensive wall, curving it just under the crossbar.
"Those two situations completely changed the game," U.S. Coach Peter Nowak said. "That's a good sign for the future."
Sacha Kljestan rounded out the scoring, taking a center from Stuart Holden, threading a pair of Canadian defenders and knocking a shot near post in the 78th minute.
Canada was held without a shot on goal despite nine attempts at the net. - The Tennessean
We went to see the Olympic qualifying rounds for men's soccer last Thursday! U.S. beat Canada, and Honduras beat Guatemala! It was very exciting!
By the way, here is something for the 8th graders that have to do the WHAM! weather report. It has everything, including temperature, relative humidity, air pressure...everything.
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