When it comes to Olympic soccer, the United States is still a team of international greenhorns. It couldn't have been more evident Wednesday night.
Outfoxed by a more experienced Portuguese team and lacking the seasoned flair needed to finish its scoring chances, the U.S. team was held to a 1-1 tie, maintaining the country's dubious record of always going home after the first round.
Paulo Alves ran through the heart of the U.S. defense in the 33rd minute to give Portugal (1-0-2) the cushion it needed to advance to the quarterfinals, a first for a country that made its only previous Olympic soccer appearance in 1928.
Lack of polish on the U.S. front line hurt the most. Time and again, U.S. defenders and midfielders moved the ball downfield with nice touch-passing, only to have the final shot tamely miss the mark.
The United States (1-1-1) finally scored when A.
J. Wood and Brian Maisonneuve teamed for a goal in the 75th minute. But it was only a consolation prize for a team that needed a victory to advance when Argentina and Tunisia tied.
ARGENTINA 1, TUNISIA 1: Tunisia's Mohamed Mkacher headed in a corner kick with 15 minutes left to tie it in Birmingham.
Argentina will play Spain in Saturday's quarterfinal game at Legion Field.
Tunisia (0-2-1), with two players sitting out because of red-card ejections in the previous game, recovered from Argentina's quick start and dominated play for long stretches on the soggy turf. But Argentina (1-0-2), which beat the United States and tied Portugal and Tunisia, managed to avoid the upset that has plagued Brazil and Italy.
FRANCE 2, SAUDI ARABIA 1: Antoine Sibierski scored from 18 yards in the 49th minute to lift France in Miami. France (2-0-1) and Spain tied for the top spot in Group B, with the French getting first place on goal differential. Winless Saudi Arabia (0-3) was merely finishing a disappointing appearance.
_ Staff Writer Roger Mills contributed to this report.