The U.S. U-23s may not have looked like world-beaters in qualifying for the 2008 Olympics, but the campaign run by U-23 coach Peter Nowak was at least effective enough to get them there. While pundits in the U.S. complained about the manner of team USA's qualification, Canada's coach Nick Dasovic was full of praise for Nowak's side -- and for U.S. soccer in general.
"The one thing about
the States is, I still think they are the best CONCACAF team, not just in the U-23 level, but the senior level," Dasovic said after the Americans 3-0 drubbing of Canada in the CONCACAF Olympic
qualifying semifinals. He pointed to U.S. Soccer's investment in the game as being the difference. "What they have done the last 20 years is remarkable," Dasovic said. "Twenty years ago, when I was
playing, 15 years ago, it was close. Twenty-five years ago, you guys weren't even close to us. Now it has gone reverse because of the money, the infrastructure, the coaching, everything you guys
have in this country."
With the exception of the third and final African place, the Olympic tournament in Beijing is now set: the USA and Honduras now join Asia's Australia, Japan, South
Korea and China, Europe's Belgium, Italy, Netherlands and Serbia, South America's Argentina and Brazil, Oceania's New Zealand, and Africa's Cameroon, Ivory Coast and either Nigeria, Ghana or South
Africa in the final 16.