[Live/TV] Mexico U23 vs United States U23 Live Stream Online Now For Free

by Naimul
Published: March 24, 2021 (3 months ago)

¬†FEATURES & OPINIONS’If we’re not focused, Mexico will batter us!’ – U.S. face Olympic balancing act in clash with great rivals Ryan Tolmich Last updated 4 hours ago Ferreira Antuna U.S. Mexico Getty





With a spot in the semifinals already booked, Jason Kreis leads his team into an always emotional match but one that means little on the road to Tokyo
If the U.S. U-23 men’s national team was facing any other team, things would be different.

The U.S. has already booked their spot in the semifinal round, after all, and it’s that semifinal, not Wednesday’s group-stage finale, that will determine whether or not they head to the Olympics this summer.

But the U.S. isn’t facing any other team on Wednesday; they’re facing Mexico. And while the stakes may be lowered a bit by both teams’ perfect records so far, this is never a normal matchup.

There is something big on the line: seeding, as Mexico will seal the top spot in the group with a draw. But, with Group B still yet to truly take shape, there’s no way to plan for semis.

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Also on the line? Pride, bragging rights and everything that comes with it. This is a rivalry that extends through every level of the game, one that will always have an extra layer of emotion woven in.

So, for U.S. head coach Jason Kreis, Wednesday’s clash is one giant balancing act. On one side is caution and the fairly factual idea that this clash with Mexico means little on the road to Japan.

But on the other side is the idea that this game truly does mean something for a team that is desperate to prove itself after watching their predecessors fail during each of the last two Olympic qualifying cycles.

Kreis admitted that it would be a real “feather in our cap” if the U.S. could take down their rivals to finish atop the group. But, at the end of the day, sacrificing a place at Tokyo 2021 for that feather and a little bit of pride isn’t part of the plan.

“I’ve been coaching a long time, and I will tell you that this is a unique situation,” Kreis said. “I can’t ever remember having so many considerations going into one game with such a short timespan and a limited roster. There are so many variables here to work with that we just have to make our best decision.

“I don’t know that you can really rank things. Of course, I think the one that’s obvious to everybody and I don’t have a problem spelling it out for you: the most important thing is the semifinal match. So, we go into this game with that really guiding us.”

“It’s always going to be a difficult circumstance when you’re playing arguably your biggest rivals in Mexico, and I’m sure it’ll be an emotional, spirited match,” Kreis added.

“But at the end of the day, all of our players are clear with the knowledge that the most important game is the one that’s coming up. The one that we have to win to make the Olympics is the semifinal.”

United States Under-23s Dominican Republic Olympic Qualifying GFX
And so begins the balancing act but, should Kreis lean too far to one way, things could go drastically wrong. He can’t risk anything or anyone that could impact the semifinal but, on the other hand, risking too little and taking a beating at the hand of a rival isn’t exactly the ideal setup for a must-win knockout match.

Mexico, who currently top the group on goal differential, have the talent to take it to anyone in this region. They’re led by Sebastian Cordova, who has fired four goals in two games and has been joined on the scoresheet by the likes of former LA Galaxy star Uriel Antuna and Chivas forward Alexis Vega.

Overall, Mexico have scored seven times while conceding just once from wins over Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

The U.S., meanwhile, limped through a 1-0 win over Costa Rica and then the first 45 minutes of their win over the DR. The second 45 minutes, though, were masterful, as the U.S. blitzed their overmatched opponents with their first real sign of life in this tournament.

“It’s just going one game at a time,” said U.S. winger Jonathan Lewis. “If we come into this game against Mexico, and we’re thinking about the next game after that, we’re probably going to get battered.

“We have to go in there focused and we have to take it a game at a time because going into a game like this against Mexico, if they were to come out and batter us because we’re not focused, that can destroy the whole team morale going into the semifinals.”

United States Under-23s Dominican Republic Olympic Qualifying GFX
The U.S. certainly find themselves in a delicate position with the semifinals looming. In addition to the other group’s uncertainty, the 20-player rosters offer little room for rotation, as Kreis has already turned to each of his 17 field players and two of his goalkeepers during the team’s two-game run.

Further rotation seems inevitable against Mexico, with Jesus Ferreira and Justen Glad, both one yellow card away from picking up a suspension, making them logical places to start if Kreis is looking to mix and match.

However, with 11 players on the field and five substitutes at his disposal, Kreis can only get so creative.

“It’s not like there can be a complete rotation,” Kreis said. “So, we have to make, I think, some really, really educated decisions and have discussions about these decisions and really, really weigh out a pathway forward.”

It remains to be seen where that pathway turns but, no matter what happens on Wednesday, at least it goes on. The U.S. has already done the hard work to get out of the group, making Wednesday’s match a mini-reward, and a massive test, for his team.

“We’ve accomplished what we set out to accomplish in the first two matches,” Kreis said. “We’ve qualified ourselves for the semifinal, which we know is the most important game to get to.

“And now we face a very, very good opponent in Mexico, a huge challenge, and I think a little bit of a measuring stick opportunity for us to see how we compare to a very strong team.”