After a difficult first hour, the U.S. Men’s U-23 National Team broke found its offense and skipped past the Dominican Republic, 4-0, in its second game of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Mexico.
The first half was dominated by the U.S., which could not score. Despite having 67% of the possession, the Americans managed a modest six shots to two for the Dominicans. The situation was similar for the first 15 minutes of the second half, but then changed suddenly.
The best U.S. attack of the day included a Johnny Cardoso rocket that banged off the crossbar in the 60th minute, then ricocheted back to striker Sebastian Saucedo, who sent a laser toward the Dominican goal that was re-directed in the middle of the box by midfielder Jackson Yueill for the first score.
That changed the nature of the game and the U.S. began to get better opportunities, resulting in goals for substitute striker Hassani Dotson in the 73rd minute and then Dotson again five minutes later, both with assists from Djordje Mihailovic.
The Americans got a fourth goal, this time from Mihailovic in the 90th minute thanks to an endline pass from Benjamin Michel.
The game ended with the U.S. owning 66% of the possession and a 16-4 edge in shots. U.S. keeper James Marcinkowski didn’t not have to work too hard for the shutout.
The win advances the U.S. to the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying semifinals, although its opponent is unknown. A win there would propel the U.S. into the Tokyo Games.
In the nightcap game, Mexico defeated Costa Rica, 3-0, taking charge in the sixth minute on a Uriel Antuna goal. The 1-0 lead expanded in the second half with a 52nd-minute goal by Alexis Vega and then a final score from Sebastian Cordova in the 69th.
Mexico had 55% possession in the game, but the defenses were stingy, with only six shots – but three goals – from the winners, to five shots for Costa Rica.
The U.S. and Mexico, both 2-0, will meet on Wednesday to determine the group winner. Both will advance to a play-in game for the Tokyo Games in the tournament semifinals on 28 March in Guadalajara. The likely opponents are Canada and Honduras, both of which won their opening games in Group B on Friday.