The USA has a must-win sunset showdown against the Dominican Republic at 5,243 feet.
The U-23 USMNT is one win away from placing in the top two positions of the Concacaf Group A Olympic Qualifying table and advancing to the tournament’s semifinals. Tonight they face the Dominican Republic in Mexico’s high-altitude host city of Zapopan near the outskirts of metropolitan Guadalajara.
The Yanks are coming off of a gutsy 1-0 win over Costa Rica last week, while the Dominican Republic was battered by an athletic Mexico side, 4-1, in their first match of the tournament.
Colorado Rapids leftback Sam Vines played until the final whistle, while winger Jonathan Lewis came off the pitch in the 83rd minute. Vines was credited with the game’s lone assist when he brought down a long pass from the thin air and crossed it into the box. An oncoming Jesus Ferreira found the transversing ball and smashed it in for the score.
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Otherwise, the typically steady Vines had a rough outing missing connecting passes and getting beat on defense by swiftly attacking Ticos. The hustling Lewis penetrated the final third several times; however, made no strikes at the goal.
What was apparent to USA fans and viewers is head coach Jason Kreis’ talent-filled starting 11, plus substitutes, have not coalesced. Since October, the mix of U.S. men’s evaluation camps and subsequent friendlies have included numerous candidates and the final 20 players for this tournament were not selected until March 11.
The match against Costa Rica was their first as a full team and it was apparent that they are not in sync. Hopefully, tonight’s game against the Dominican Republic will afford the Yanks another opportunity to get on the same page and continue to make incremental progress ahead of the tournament’s pivotal semifinals scheduled for March 28th.
This is Los Quisqueyanos’ first appearance at the tournament. They qualified as one of the two teams to emerge from the 16-team Caribbean pre-qualifying along with Haiti, who is playing in Group B.
The sunset showdown will be their first meeting at Concacaf Olympic qualifying event.
“I think we’re in a good spot,” Kreis said during a call with the media on Saturday. “We’re really, really pleased with the result, really pleased to win our first game in the group. It was a big objective for our team in this tournament, but also I think we were left wanting more. The entire team knows, the staff knows what we could have done to play better. It’s our objective to not only win games but in a certain way,” he said.
“I don’t think that we completed everything that we wanted to in that game. We have a hungry group that wants to get another one tomorrow night and do it in a much better fashion.”
How to Watch
Match Date/Time: Sunday, March, 21 at 5 p.m. MT
Venue: Estadio Akron — Zapopan, Mexico
TV Information: FS1 and TUDN
CONCACAF U.S. MEN’S OLYMPIC QUALIFYING CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; HOMETOWN):
DEFENDERS (6): 2-Julian Araujo (LA Galaxy; Lompoc, Calif.), 4-Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; Tucson, Ariz.), 17-Aaron Herrera (Real Salt Lake; Las Cruces, N.M.), 3-Henry Kessler (New England Revolution; New York, N.Y.), 5-Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire FC; Bolingbrook, Ill.), 13-Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids; Colorado Springs, Colo.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 16-Johnny Cardoso (Internacional/BRA; Denville, N.J.), 18-Hassani Dotson (Minnesota United FC; Federal Way, Wash.), 8-Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal/CAN; Lemont, Ill.), 15-Andrés Perea (Orlando City SC; Medellin, Colombia), 10-Sebastian Saucedo (UNAM Pumas/MEX; Park City, Utah), 11-Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas; Hoover, Ala.), 6-Jackson Yueill (San Jose Earthquakes; Bloomington, Minn.)
FORWARDS (4): 9-Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas; McKinney, Texas), 7-Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids; Plantation, Fla.), 14-Benji Michel (Orlando City SC; Orlando, Fla.), 19-Sebastian Soto (Norwich City/ENG; San Diego, Calif.)