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Despite disappointment, we're proud of our Olympian

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Posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 12:00 am

The U.S. Olympic soccer team played three amazing first-round games but took itself out of the Olympic tournament with its own rough play.

What a disappointment that Lodi's Patrick Ianni got no playing time.

The U.S. began by beating Japan fair and square. Then they tied but outplayed the group favorite Netherlands. Today, they gritted out a close loss to Nigeria playing a man down for 86 of 90 minutes.

(If you're interested a quick recap of the games, I was impressed by the live play-by-play blog.)

Team U.S.A. goes home defeated by the carelessness of its own players.

Sunday, Stuart Holden was punished by a yellow car when he put his foot in the groin area of the Netherlands' Gerald Sibon. The rough tackle gave the Netherlands a free kick 19 yards from the goal. That chance turned an American win into a tie. Clean play and a win would have guaranteed Team U.S.A. an appearance in the quarterfinals.

Today,stars Freddy Adu and Michael Bradley were sidelined by yellow cards in previous games.

ThenMichael Orozco threw an elbow and knocked downSolomon Okoronkwoof Nigeria. They weren't even scrapping for the ball. Orozco was ejected before the first shot on goal by either team. Clean play would have given the U.S. an 11th man to close up the one or two gaps left in defense. An 11th man might have finished any one of half a dozen great attacks. An 11th man could easily have turned around a 1-2 loss.

Clean play would have given Team U.S.A. one more game and Patrick Ianni another chance to enter an Olympic game.

As it is, our Olympian comes home with no minutes on the field.

Nevertheless, Pat, we're proud to call you an Olympian. We loved your columns that let us share your personal thrill of a lifetime.

Best wishes as soccer takes you on your next adventure.