LIVE: U.S. U23s, Mexico face off for Olympic qualifying top spot

The U.S. and Mexico renew their rivalry, this time at Under-23 level in a CONCACAF Olympic qualifier that will decide where the two countries finish in Group A and will help determine each nation’s semifinal opponent. Both sides have the maximum six points from two games and are assured of a place in the last four, with the two semifinal winners then clinching a place at the Tokyo games later this year.

The Group A winner between the United States and Mexico will face the runner-up of Group B (Honduras, Canada, El Salvador, or Haiti), while the runner-up will play the winner of Group B. Finally, in the event of two teams finishing level on points, the tie-breakers are goal differential and then goals scored.

Keep up with all the action in Guadalajara in our LIVE blog, which features analysis, social reaction, and contributions from various ESPN talent.

Please refresh the page for the latest updates.

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83 MINS: Alexis Vega whips in a dangerous ball but it gets all the way through to Ochoa who hold on. Ochoa and Vasquez come together at the top of the box and tempers flare on both sides. Not much in it but again this is U.S. vs. Mexico!

80 MINS: Just 10 minutes plus stoppage time to go. Can the U.S. find an equalizer? As it stands they need two goals to win the game and group over Mexico.

75 MINS: SUB: Jason Kreis uses his last roll of the dice by bringing on ex-Clemson football recruit Tanner Tessman for Hassani Dotson.

71 MINS: SUB: Benji Michel becomes the fourth sub for the U.S. as the Orlando City man replaces Sebastian Saucedo. The U.S. have one sub remaining.

70 MINS: SUB: It’s Mexico’s turn to make subs, as El Tri bring on Jesus Ricardo Angulo and Carlos Rodriguez for Jose Macias and Roberto Alvarado.

69 MINS: The U.S. create a half-chance but despite Jurado scrambling, fail to direct a shot on target. Mihailovic continues to be the best attacking threat for the Americans

61 MINS: SUB: Triple sub for the United States. Jesus Ferreira comes on even on a red card. He’ll need to be careful to avoid being suspended for the semifinal.

59 MINS: Antuna sets up the dangerous Jose Macias in close but the Chivas man skies a golden chance for Mexico. Another let-off for the USYNT.

58 MINS: CHANCE. Maybe the best moment for the U.S. all night, as Sebastian Saucedo’s shot is blocked by Gilbert Sepulveda. U.S. players appeal for a handball but it isn’t given. Johnny heads from his knees from the subsequent corner but it is gathered by Jurado. First shot on target of the night for the U.S.

56 MINS: Antuna again gets the better of a U.S. full-back, this time Aaron Herrera, which leads to a chance for Alvardo. Brave block from Henry Kessler thwarts the effort. Mexico pushing for a second now.

53 MINS: The U.S. finally break into the Mexico half but despite his best protests Johnny is not awarded a corner by the referee. Good work from Soto to start the move.

46 MINS: We are back underway, as Mexico pick up right where they left off and charge forward into the U.S. half.

10.42 PM ET: Here’s Jeff ‘s biggest takeaways from the opening 45 minutes

1. Tough to see where the creativity is going to come from tonight, especially with Kreis protecting guys like Jesus Ferreira on yellow cards.

2. Defensively, the U.S. improved as the half went on. Pineda in particular looks much sharper than he was in the group opener against Costa Rica.

3. For all the talk about Johnny Cardoso having attacking skill, he has yet to show it at international level.

10:31 PM ET: More analysis on the late Mexico goal…

HALF-TIME: It”s 1-0 Mexico at the break, as Antuna’s 45th-minute strike is the difference.

45 MINS: GOAAALLL! Mexico strike first just before half-time through the ex-Galaxy man, Uriel Antuna.

37 MINS: The U.S. win a promising free kick and Djordje Mihailovic’s dangerous ball leads to a scramble in the box. The Mexico goalkeeper Luis Malagon lands awkwardly on his wrist and looks to have suffered a nasty injury. He is stretchered off and Sebastian Jurado will replace him.

28 MINS: A huge let-off for the U.S.! Mauricio Pineda makes a brilliant, goal-saving tackle to deny Alejandro Mayorga, who looked to be clear in on goal after turning U.S. right-back Julian Araujo inside-out. Aruajo the most relieved man on the pitch. It stays 0-0.

23 MINS: Mexico are starting to seize momentum here, as Ochoa makes a comfortable first save, before ex-LA Galaxy attacker Uriel Antuna blazes well wide with a daisy cutter.

20 MINS: If the US were to qualify what could a dream XI of eligible players look like? While understanding that many of these players would not be released by their clubs, here is our Jeff Carlisle’s dream XI :

GK David Ochoa; LB Antonee Robinson, CB Mark McKenzie, CB Chris Richards, RB Sergino Dest; MF Yunus Musah, MF Tyler Adams, MF Weston McKennie; FW Giovanni Reyna, FW Josh Sargent, FW Christian Pulisic

Now that is a team on paper that would figure to be a major contender for a medal.

16 MINS: Mexico’s third corner of the night doesn’t yield any end product, as Vasquez heads harmlessly wide of Ochoa.

13 MINS: It’s getting physical Guadalajara as both teams have dished out hard challenges in the early stages. Amen, Janusz.

9 MINS: Another corner for Mexico, which Roberto Alvarado takes. Goalkeeper David Ochoa looked to slightly misjudge the flight of Alvarado’s cross but holds on to avoid any further danger.

7 MINS: After being pushed back initially by Mexico, the U.S. have started to grab a foothold in this match, first winning a corner and now a free kick in the attacking half.

3 MINS: And Mexico win the first corner of the match… which after a partial clear results in a long-distance drive from Johan Vásquez that fizzes wide.


9:17 PM ET: Are you ready for U.S. vs. Mexico? Midfielder Andres Perea sure seems excited for his first taste of CONCACAF’s greatest rivalry…

9:02 PM ET: And El Tri’s lineup is out… Club America’s Sebastian Cordova, the tournament’s top scorer on four goals, starts from the bench with an eye to Sunday’s semifinal.

8:56 PM ET: In case you missed it…could some of the USMNT’s top young stars play in Tokyo if the U.S. qualify? Christian Pulisic for one has said he would relish the opportunity to represent the Stars and Stripes this summer.

“It’s something I’ve thought about, and have wanted to play in,” Pulisic said on a Zoom call with reporters about playing in the Olympics. “Obviously, I can’t control what goes on. What’s best for me at the time and what’s best for the team at the time, I obviously can’t say. But it is something that I would like to play in.”

8:37 PM ET: The USYNT starting XI is out and Jason Kreis has made six changes with Julian Araujo, Henry Kessler, Sebastian Saucedo, Andres Perea and Hassani Dotson the only holdovers from Sunday’s 4-0 win over the Dominican Republic.

8:24 PM ET: You know the old adageLook good, play good’. Mexico are set to debut their new Rosa Mexicano jerseys.

8:00 PM ET: It’s Matchday, as we are now less than an hour and a half away from kick-off between the USMNT Under-23s and Mexico in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying! Remember to keep it locked here throughout the evening as we follow along with this crucial Group A decider, with both sides attempting to edge one step closer to securing a spot at this summer’s Tokyo games.


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