Olympic-Sized Soccer Fail Shows 'Mediocrity Has Become Normal' for U.S. Men (Podcast)The U.S. men's national soccer team has come in from the wilderness. But its reputation in the eyes of the wider American sporting public lags far behind its actual standing in the world game.

People at all levels of U.S. soccer have worked tirelessly to bridge the gap between perception and reality. This makes the failure of the U.S. U-23 national team to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games all the more disappointing.

The Americans finished third in group A of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament. Monday's 3-3 draw against El Salvador saw the U-23s concede the tying goal in the last minute of the game. It crushed the Olympic hopes of what some called a potential "golden generation" of players.

Not only did it revive not-so-dormant stereotypes about male soccer players in this country. It also raised new questions about the players, coaches and direction of the whole U.S. soccer program.

NESN.com soccer editor Marcus Kwesi O'Mard is joined by Chuck Murphy from the Denver Post to break down the nightmare in Nashville, Tenn. Murphy's recent article on the subject rang alarm bells in some circles. Is the sky falling down on U.S. soccer?

Listen to the podcast or download it in the player below.

Have a question for Marcus Kwesi O'Mard? Send it to him via Twitter at @NESNsoccer, NESN Soccer's Facebook page or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.