After grinding out a win against Costa Rica last Thursday, the United States U-23s took care of business on Sunday night by beating the Dominican Republic 4-0 in Olympic qualifying at Estadio Akron. If Mexico beats or ties Costa Rica in Sunday’s later game, the U.S. is through to the semifinals. If Costa Rica wins, Wednesday’s group finale against Mexico takes on meaning again.
Despite having never reached this stage before, the Dominican Republic showed its resilience in holding Mexico to a 1-0 halftime advantage in their encounter last Thursday (and then Sebastián Córdova happened). So while it shouldn’t have been a huge surprise that the halftime whistle blew with the score level at 0-0 in this one, what was concerning was the performance of the U.S.
Stuart Holden said it on the FS1 broadcast: there was no one who demanded the ball or showed any personality.
Johnny Cardoso couldn’t find the rhythm of the game, Sebastian Saucedo looked like an attacker who hadn’t scored for his club since Jan. 12, 2020 and America’s Hollywood balls from midfield floated harmlessly through the Guadalajara air like the brain after six Estrellas.
The positive news — and it really is a positive given the leanness of the left back position at pretty much every nation across the globe — is that 21-year-old Sam Vines can pick out a cross and has been working on his technique with the Colorado Rapids.
Johan Guzman! Good save by the goalkeeper! | @sedofutbol
— Concacaf (@Concacaf) March 21, 2021
close to a beauty from the @USYNT's Sam Vines pic.twitter.com/uiKIGjmwxn— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 21, 2021
But the U.S. performance improved mightily in the second half, and it was Saucedo — moments before he was to be replaced by Djordje Mihailovic — who provided the assist in the 61st minute for Jackson Yueill’s opener.
The final touch from the San Jose Earthquakes midfielder was glorious.
There it is! What a touch from Jackson Yueill to put the USYNT ahead pic.twitter.com/FF9fflWtnR
The introduction of Hassani Dotson for Johnny proved the genesis of two more goals. The Minnesota United midfielder buried an effort at the top of the area after Mihailovic slipped him the ball in the 73rd minute.
2-0, USYNT! @MNUFC's Hassani Dotson hands the U.S. a cushion in the second half pic.twitter.com/luFLIEyiKz
And then the two combined again to make it 3-0 in the 78th.
ANOTHER ONE! Hassani Dotson gets his second and the USYNT's third pic.twitter.com/UuebzwSbWC
After providing two assists, it was time for Mihailovic to get his reward — the simplest of tap-ins with Orlando’s Benji Michel providing the pass.
Make that 4️⃣! @DjoMihailovic gets in on the scoring. pic.twitter.com/6eSTiAZajY
The U.S. vs. Mexico game is scheduled for Wednesday, March 24 at 9:30 p.m. ET on FS1.