In the current era of increasingly furious anti-Klinsmann sentiment, it seems the US soccer media describes every USMNT result as America's international soccer nadir. On October 10, the hyperbole was handed an unmissable opportunity to draw closer to reality: the senior team lost to Mexico in CONCACAF Cup (thereby missing out on the 2017 Confederations Cup); the U-23s lost to Honduras in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying.
The latter result is not the end of the USA's chances of making the 2016 Olympic men's soccer tournament, but it was a blow nonetheless, since it means any role in next summer's competition will have to be won on foreign soil (Brazil) against Colombia, a team that seems likely to be better than most kicking around CONCACAF.
And in order to get to that March playoff, the US must first beat Canada today. Again.
This match is a repeat of the opening game of this tournament for both teams. Canada was second-best the first time around, and is favorite to be second-best again this time. In the semifinals, USMNT was undone by one of the best young forwards in the region - Alberth Elis - supplemented by a cluster of other emerging Honduran talent. With respect to Michael Petrasso and the other Canadians on the roster for Olympic qualifying, Canada's comparable talent (Cyle Larin, Doneil Henry) isn't at this tournament.
Still, both teams know this is now-or-never time, and the USA is coming off a big disappointment while the Canadians can be satisfied with their work so far. An early goal for Canada or a call or two against the home team could challenge the Americans' shaken confidence.