Silver linings from U.S. not qualifying 

April, 2, 2012
04/02/12
2:26
PM ET

No matter how you spin it, the news that the U.S. will miss out on the Olympics for the second time in three tries is devastating for a program that needed something to hang its hat on after a problematic 2011. There were plenty of obvious shortcomings for the U-23s in their early elimination from qualifying -- the defense, Coach Caleb Porter's game management and particularly the young goalkeepers were all far from up to the task in Nashville.

But perhaps the Olympic qualifiers were not all bad for the U.S. With the possible exception of those 'keepers, none of the above-listed culprits is likely to be seen around the full team anytime soon. And beyond that mess of not qualifying, there were some developments worth noting in the all-too-short three-game run.

Some U-23s actually look to have improved their standing heading into World Cup qualifiers. And without making excuses for the failure, there are also a few mitigating circumstances, worth reiterating, that should reduce the wholesale worry for the future of the American program.

For the sake of the partial sanity of rightfully-deflated American fans, let's take a look at the upside of the qualifying disaster before moving on from this latest debacle.

Brent Latham is a soccer commentator who covers the youth national teams for ESPN.com. Based in Guatemala, he has attended youth World Cups from Peru to Egypt, and places in between.

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