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Ticket to Tokyo at Stake for U-23 USMNT Vs. Honduras



OLYMPIC BERTH AT STAKE: The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team will play for a spot at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Sunday night vs. Honduras (6 p.m. ET; FS1, TUDN). A victory will punch the USA’s ticket to Tokyo and its first Men’s Olympic Football Tournament appearance since 2008, as well as a place in the Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship Final.

The U.S. won its first two matches of Olympic qualifying to clinch a berth in the semifinals and dropped a hard-fought 1-0 loss to Mexico in its last match. Honduras topped an under-manned Haiti squad in its first match before tying El Salvador and Canada to finish first in Group B.

Fans can follow the U.S. throughout the tournament on


Date Opponent Venue Result
Thursday, March 18 Costa Rica W 1-0 Estadio Jalisco; Guadalajara, Mexico
Sunday, March 21 Dominican Republic W 4-0 Estadio Akron; Zapopan, Mexico
Wednesday, March 24 Mexico L 0-1 Estadio Jalisco; Guadalajara, Mexico


  • The USA is 5-3-1 all-time vs. Honduras at Olympic qualifying, with all match-ups coming since the tournament became an Under-23 competition in 1992.
  • Honduras has qualified for the last three Olympic Games. Los Catrachos finished fourth at Rio 2016, falling to host Brazil in the semifinals.
  • Honduras qualified for the Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship as one of three teams to emerge from the six-team Central American pre-qualifying. The six teams were placed into three two-legged series with the winners advancing to the tournament proper.
  • Drawn against Nicaragua, Honduras took down La Selecta on the road 2-0 and then won 3-0 at home to clinch its spot in Guadalajara.
  • Honduras named seven players to its roster who were born in 1997, seven born in 1998, three born in 1999, two born in 2000 and one born in 2001.
  • Fourteen of the 20-player Honduras roster compete domestically, with the most, four, coming from CD Olimpia, one of the country’s most successful clubs. Three play in the USA, while Honduras also has one player each in Chile, Italy and Panama.
  • Forward Douglas Martinez is a teammate of U-23 USMNT goalkeeper David Ochoa and defenders Justen Glad and Aaron Herrera at Real Salt Lake in Major League Soccer.
  • It’s head coach Miguel Falero’s second stint leading the Honduras U-23 squad. The Uruguayan enjoyed a long playing career in South America and Greece before a lengthy coaching career in Uruguay, Ecuador and Honduras.



Team W L D GD Pts.
Mexico 3 0 0 7 9
USA 2 1 0 4 6
Costa Rica 1 2 0 1 3
Dominican Republic 0 3 0 -12 0


Team W L D GD Pts.
Honduras 1 0 2 3 5
Canada 1 0 2 2 5
El Salvador 1 1 1 -1 4
Haiti 0 2 1 -4 1

After opening Olympic qualifying with two important victories to secure its place in the semifinals, the USA dropped a tight game to Mexico 1-0 in its final group stage match. With both teams already qualified to the knockout round, the U.S. defense held strong for the most part against an aggressive Mexico attack but gave up a goal just before the half. The U-23 USMNT wasn’t able to find an equalizer after the break in a physical match that saw both teams combine for 40 fouls.

LOS CATRACHOS TOP GROUP B: Honduras advanced to the tournament semifinals as the top team in Group B. Los Catrachos opened against Haiti, who was only able to field 10 players at the start of the match due to COVID-19 protocols. Haiti started the match with a field player stepping in at goalkeeper, but had additional players cleared for action later in the match and were able to field a full XI. Honduras came out on top 3-0 with two goals from Darixon Vuelto and another from Edwin Rodriguez.

In its second match, Honduras drew El Salvador 1-1. After Los Catrachos took a lead just after the half on a goal from Douglas Martinez, El Salvador rallied for an equalizer to salvage a point. The one point was enough to clinch a spot for Honduras in the Olympic qualifying semifinals for the sixth straight competition.

In its Group B finale, Canada struck first, but Honduras responded quickly with a goal from Denil Maldonado just two minutes later. The affair finished 1-1, sending both sides to the semis.


GOALKEEPERS (3): 12-Matt Freese (Philadelphia Union; Wayne, Pa.), 1-JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes, Alamo, Calif.), 20-David Ochoa (Real Salt Lake; Oxnard, Calif.)

DEFENDERS (6): 2-Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy; Lompoc, Calif.), 4-Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; Tucson, Ariz.), 17-Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake; Las Cruces, N.M.), 3-Henry Kessler (New England Revolution; New York, N.Y.), 5-Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire FC; Bolingbrook, Ill.), 13-Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids; Colorado Springs, Colo.)

MIDFIELDERS (7): 16-Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA; Denville, N.J.), 18-Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United FC; Federal Way, Wash.), 8-Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal/CAN; Lemont, Ill.), 15-Andrés Perea (Orlando City SC; Medellin, Colombia), 10-Sebastian Saucedo (UNAM Pumas/MEX; Park City, Utah), 11-Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas; Hoover, Ala.), 6-Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; Bloomington, Minn.)

FORWARDS (4): 9-Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas), 7-Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids; Plantation, Fla.), 14-Benji Michel (Orlando City SC; Orlando, Fla.), 19-Sebastian Soto (Norwich City/ENG; San Diego, Calif.)



GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Alex Barrios (CD Olimpia), 18-Enrique Facusse (RGV Toros FC/USA), 12-Michael Perello (Real España)

DEFENDERS (6): 3-Wesley Decas (FC Motagua), 16-Jose Garcia (CD Real de Minas), 2-Denil Maldonado (Everton/CHI), 4-Carlos Melendez (CDS Vida), 5-Christopher Melendez (FC Motagua), 6-Jonathan Nuñez (FC Motagua)

MIDFIELDERS (7): 20-Carlos Argueta (CDS Vida), 15-Kervin Arriaga (CD Marathon), 17-Jose Pinto (CD Olimpia), 7-Jose Reyes (CD Olimpia), 10-Rigoberto Rivas (Reggina Calcio/ITA), 14-Joseph Rosales (CA Independiente/PAN), 8-Edwin Rodriguez (CD Olimpia)

FORWARDS (4): 9-Juan Carlos Obregon (RGV Toros FC/USA), 19-Douglas Martinez (Real Salt Lake/USA), 13-Luis Palma (CDS Vida), 11-Darixon Vuelto (Real España)

TOURNAMENT FORMAT: Held quadrennially, the Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship serves as the region’s qualification for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament and as a regional championship for Under-23 players. Since 1992, the Olympics have been contested as an Under-23 competition to differentiate the tournament from the FIFA World Cup.

The current format for the Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship – eight nations divided into two groups of four teams – was adopted in 2004. The top two teams in each group advance to the pivotal semifinals, whose winners advance to the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament as well as the qualifying competition’s championship match.

Originally slated for March 2020, the Concacaf qualifying tournament is open to all players born January 1, 1997 or after. The age-eligibility rules have carried over from the postponement, so some players on the U-23 USMNT are actually 24 years old.

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Answers demanded after Nigeria’s disappointing 2026 FIFA World Cup outing



Nigeria’s sports ministry has demanded an explanation for the country’s poor 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, labelling it “unacceptable” after a 2-1 defeat by Benin left the Super Eagles winless from their opening four games.

Following draws with Lesotho, Zimbabwe and South Africa, Monday’s result means Nigeria sit fifth in Group C with three points from a possible 12.

Only the group winners are guaranteed a place at the World Cup finals, which will be jointly hosted by the USA, Canada, and Mexico.

“Our supporters are passionate and devoted,” senator John Owan Enoh, minister of sports development, said in a statement.

“They deserve an explanation for why our national team has not been performing to the expected standards since after the last Africa Cup of Nations.

“The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) must provide a comprehensive technical report explaining the reasons behind this poor showing and give cause why there mustn’t be consequences.

“The recent results are unacceptable.”

Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, losing on away goals to Ghana in the play-offs, but did reach the final of this year’s Nations Cup under former boss Jose Peseiro, losing to hosts Ivory Coast.

Finidi George was appointed as Peseiro’s replacement in April but failed to lift the team’s performances against South Africa and Benin.

The Super Eagles have failed to win any of their past seven World Cup qualifiers dating back to November 2021 – a time when Gernot Rohr, now coach of Benin, was in charge.

The game against Benin, which was played in neutral Ivory Coast, got off to an inauspicious start for Nigeria when the the wrong national anthem was played.

Two weeks ago, President Bola Tinubu made a controversial decision to revert to the nation’s former anthem, but organisers in Abidjan clearly missed the memo.

The NFF expressed its displeasure at the mistake and threatened not to take the field for the second period until the correct anthem was played.

Raphael Onyedika had put the Super Eagles ahead after 27 minutes but goals from Jodel Dossou and Steve Mounie gave Benin the advantage at the break.

Having returned to Nigeria on Tuesday, the team put out a statement on social media, admitting they were “unhappy about the way the two games panned out” and promising to “fight hard till the end” of the qualifying campaign.

One factor in the squad’s underperformance could be the absence of star striker Victor Osimhen, who has missed all four Group C games so far with injury.

Yet, even without the reigning African Footballer of the Year, the Nigeria squad boasts enough attacking talent to have found the net more than four times in as many outings.

African World Cup qualifiers are set to resume in March next year, with 2025 Nations Cup qualifiers scheduled to be held in September, October and November.

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French Open: Carlos Alcaraz wins first Roland Garros trophy, trouncing Alexander Zverev



Alcaraz has won his maiden French Open title, defeating Alexander Zverev 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2. He battled Zverev’s blistering serve and powerful volleys, but he mainly battled himself. He played sloppy tennis at times, giving away points with double faults and missing easy shots, but overcame his own demons as well as Zverev to take home his third Grand Slam title.

After the first set, it felt like the match was Alcaraz’s to win. He had bullied Zverev around the court, sending him running and exploiting his energy level; unlike Alcaraz, Zverev had spent nearly 20 hours on the court coming into the final and was not as fresh as you’d want to be.

But then in the second set, Alcaraz’s energy began to lag. He became wild and undisciplined, and Zverev took advantage. He finally experienced some sustained success against Alcaraz and took a 4-2 lead. Alcaraz looked like he was ready to take control again, but he couldn’t find any consistency. His second double fault put Zverev up 5-2, and a quick game later it was 6-2 and Zverev had evened up the score.

The third set was a roller coaster. Alcaraz took an early 2-1 lead, then found his second wind while tied 2-2 in the third set. Zverev took a second to do what he does best (complain to the chair umpire about any perceived slight or disadvantage), and from that moment, Alcaraz was back in the game. He was cheering and jumping and smiling again. As he’s told the media in the past, you have to enjoy the suffering in tennis, and that’s what Alcaraz does best.

But it didn’t last. Up 5-2 and just one game from taking a 2-1 lead, Alcaraz became sloppy and Zverev came roaring back. He won five straight games to win the third set 7-5. Now Alcaraz was playing from behind.

But that just gave Alcaraz a new challenge to handle. And he thrived. He rolled through the fourth set, coming close to bageling Zverev but managing to win 6-1 — even with a medical timeout to tend to his sore thigh. There were no shortcuts through this match. The only way to win was to play all five sets.

And that’s just what he did. Zverev won the first game but otherwise came out very flat. Alcaraz, six years Zverev’s junior, came out bouncing, and it reflected in how he played. He cut down the unforced errors, became very disciplined, and rode that all the way to victory.

With this win (and the withdrawal of Novak Djokovic), Alcaraz will move up from No. 3 in the world to No. 2. Jannik Sinner, who lost to Alcaraz in the semifinals, will move up from No. 2 to No. 1. Djokovic will slide from 1 down to 3, while Zverev’s loss in the final will keep him steady at No. 4.

Alcaraz now has three quarters of a career Grand Slam, needing only the Australian Open to claim titles in all four majors.

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OMG: Ronaldo in tears as Al-Nassr lose King’s Cup final



Cristiano Ronaldo was reduced to tears after his Al-Nassr side lost the King’s Cup final to rivals Al-Hilal on Friday night in a game with three red cards.

The former Manchester United forward collapsed to his knees as nine-man Al-Hilal won 5-4 on a penalty shootout, with the score 1-1 after extra time in Jeddah.

The 39-year-old, who set a new Saudi Pro League scoring record with 35 goals, was consoled as he was led off the pitch and sat on the bench in tears.

The Portugal captain has scored 58 goals in 64 games for Al-Nassr since joining on a free transfer in January 2023 after leaving United, but finishes the season without a trophy.

His only piece of silverware in Saudi is last year’s Arab Club Champions Cup win.

After former Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves missed the first penalty for Saudi Pro League champions Al-Hilal, former United defender Alex Telles also missed.

The teams then scored their next four penalties, including Ronaldo, before goalkeeper Yassine Bounou saved Al-Nassr’s final spot-kicks as Al-Hilal sealed a domestic double.

Former Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic opened the scoring for Al-Hilal in the seventh minute before goalkeeper David Ospina was sent off in the 56th minute.

Ayman Yahya scored a late equaliser to send the game to extra time in between red cards for Al-Hilal’s Ali Al-Bulayhi and Kalidou Koulibaly.

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