The U.S. men's eight crew left itself little room for error after it failed to advance to the finals at the 2011 World Rowing Championships on Wednesday.
The crew must win Friday's B final or wait for the second-chance qualifying regatta in May to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games.
"We've got to win the small final to salvage something out of this," men's head coach Tim McLaren said, according to a release from US Rowing. "Sometimes you work twice as hard and go slow. We'll see what they have to say."
McLaren held a 30-minute team meeting in the United States' tent after the race. The athletes emerged from the tent with grim looks on their faces afterwards.
"This regatta is not over," 10-year national team veteran Dan Walsh said. "We have to qualify this boat for the Olympics and that's the most important thing right now. So everyone is going to have to pick themselves up by the bootstraps and go out and race as hard as they can tomorrow. We've got to step it up. Next year is the one that really counts. We have to qualify this boat for the USA."