The US U-23 men’s national team were already through to the semifinals of Concacaf Olympic Qualifying, but their final group stage match against Mexico was billed as a measuring stick of their progress thus far. Although the match was a formality with both teams already advancing from the group stage, the rivalry was just as intense as usual.
US head coach Jason Kreis made several changes to his lineup, resting players who had carried the bulk of minutes or were at risk of suspension due to yellow card accumulation.
While the US were able to control possession for large stretches, and on paper went toe-to-toe with Mexico, El Tri never looked uncomfortable. While chances didn’t flow, Mexico had the better of those, and always looked the more dangerous side.
The US made it easy, though. Dropping deep to pick up the ball, forward Sebastian Soto played an ill-advised and poorly weighted back pass straight to former LA Galaxy man Uriel Antunta, who calmy beat a defender at the top of the box before driving a low shot home at the near post.
The US improved slightly in the second half, with Kreis making several aggressive changes, but could never get their attack out of first gear. Mexico never looked troubled.
The final matches in Group B are set to take place tonight. The US will find out their semifinal opponent with those results.
Man of the Match
Real Salt Lake goalkeeper David Ochoa was once again the standout, making several strong saves as well as impressive with his distribution. Not to mention he pulled this off:
Ochoa was all in on the rivalry as well, getting chippy at times and drawing the ire of the home crowd. He’s raised his stock perhaps more than any other US player so far.