The US U-23s will have to settle for second place in Group A for their Concacaf Olympic Qualifying campaign, falling 1-0 to Mexico in the rivalry matchup between the sides at Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico on Wednesday.
Uriel Antuna scored what wound up holding as the decisive goal just before the halftime whistle for Mexico, who managed to protect the one-goal advantage and see out the clean sheet in the second half. It was a defensive error that led to the game-winning tally, as Antuna picked off a wayward back pass deep in the US end and rifled home a clinical finish just seconds away from the halftime whistle.
The US would search for an equalizer throughout the second half, but struggled to get much going in the attack, allowing Mexico to take the group-clinching victory.
Mexico takes the top spot with a perfect 3-0-0 record in group play, while the US finish as the runner-up after taking victories in each of their first two qualifying matches against Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.
Both countries had already qualified for Sunday’s all-important semifinals, where they can clinch a spot in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. With Wednesday’s defeat, the US will be taking on the winner of Group B, which will be decided with Thursday’s match between Canada and Honduras.
- 45′ – MEX – Uriel Antuna
- THE BIG PICTURE: In matches like this, one mental lapse can make all the difference, and the US was reminded of that reality in harsh fashion on Wednesday. The stakes may not have been overly high with both countries already through to the semis, but US-Mexico matches always carry an added layer of intensity, and this one was no exception. Head coach Jason Kreis will no doubt be frustrated at the manner in which his side conceded the game-winner, but there’s still everything to play for on Sunday with a chance to qualify for the country’s first Olympics since 2008 squarely on the line.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The US defense was holding up reasonably well during the first half and was just seconds away from making it to the locker room at 0-0. Then Antuna made the play of the game with his interception of Sebastian Soto and well-taken finish past Real Salt Lake goalkeeper David Ochoa.
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 25, 2021
- MAN OF THE MATCH: It wasn’t just the goal that gives Antuna the honors for this one. The former LA Galaxy man was the most dynamic attacker on the field for either side all night, and was rewarded with the winner for his efforts.
- US: Sunday, March 28 vs. Canada or Honduras