The USA took on its rival Mexico with first place in the group on the line. With each team already advancing the rivalry match perhaps didn’t have as much at stake if the group had been more competitive, but each team came out with intensity and energy. Unfortunately for the young Americans, it would be Mexico that would come out on top. El Tri pressed, they stuffed the US attempts at building out of the back, and sprang forward with speed and intent. In the end, a Uriel Antuna goal would put Mexico on top as each team advanced to the semi-final match.
It was not great but there is a USA highlight in here
In the early going, it seemed like the key question for the match would be: can the USA break the Mexico press, or failing that, try something else other than passing into the teeth of it? The answer to the first part of the question was “no” and the second was... “kinda...”
What the US may have lacked in being able to string together more than four passes, it made up for in intensity and energy. However, the Americans did manage to earn several set pieces, but failed to manipulate the opposition to create scoring opportunities with them. This early trend would carry through for the entire match as the Stars and Stripes struggled to threaten to do much of anything going forward.
There would be an early substitution due to injury early as Luis Malagon suffered a wrist injury on a free kick shortly before the half. His replacement Sebastian Jurado came on to see out the match for El Tri.
It seemed like the game would go into the half scoreless but then in the 45th minute, Mexico ruined Jason Kreis’ halftime speech when Uriel Antuna opened his library of finishes and defeated the USA line of security on a long range shot that went past David Ochoa.
It counts... the U.S U-23 team coughs this #WPIOOTBGW up to Mexico pic.twitter.com/sFjVWLhBt3— When Playing It Out of the Back Goes Wrong (@wpiootbgw) March 25, 2021
On second thought, Kreis’ speech was probably, “don’t play a perfect through ball to a Mexico attacker in our defending third please.”
The Stars and Stripes did make some adjustments in the second half and began spraying the ball to the wingers rather than keep trying to pass the ball into the Mexican press. This resulted in several crosses and corners with a few that were decent but did not lead to an equalizer.
With the point of the game basically being to not get anyone suspended for the semi-final match Kreis decided to tempt fate by putting Jesus Ferreira on the field and taking off Sebastian Soto at the hour mark.
Luckily, Ferreira managed not to go into the ref’s book, but he also failed to score along with the rest of the team. In the end, the match would go down as a successful failure with the team losing to Mexico but still advancing to the semi-final match with a chance to go to the Olympics on the line.