On Wednesday night the U.S. U-23 Men’s Soccer Team fell to Mexico 1-0 in the final group match on the Concacaf Olympic Qualifiers. With the loss the United States finishes the group stage by going 2-1-0 (6 pts) and finish second behind Mexico who went 3-0-0.
The lone goal of the a match came in the 45th minute with Mexico’s Uriel Antuna scoring. The goal started with U.S.’s Sebastian Soto dropping back into his own half to get one the ball and a no-look pass by Soto was turned over and led to the goal.
Ultimately the United States struggled to piece together any real attacking threat and was pinned into their own half at times driven by the Mexican press. There were certainly flashes of chances for the United States but the finishing ball seemed to be lacking.
New England Revolution defender Henry Kessler started once again for the U.S. making it back-to-back starts for the 22-year-old. Per Concacaf, Kessler was 44/49 (90%) on his passes on the night and had to make a number of emergency type breakups that kept Mexico out of the back of the net on a number of occasions.
Kessler alongside fellow center back Mauricio Pineda are competing for the starting spot opposite of Justen Glad in the Starting XI in the semifinal on Sunday. Both Kessler and Pineda were solid against Mexico which will make the final decision very difficult for Head Coach Jason Kreis.
At the end of the day while it would have been nice to defeat Mexico and win the group the reality is the United States had to put their roster in the best position to compete in the semifinals on Sunday with an Olympic bid on the line.
The U.S. will advance to a must-win semifinal on Sunday against a team that will be determined on Thursday night. Chances are it is either Canada or Honduras but it depends on the outcome of Thursday nights matches.