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USMNT U-23s overcome slow start to roll over Dominicans and stay perfect in Olympic qualifying

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Jason Kreis insisted his team knew it had to deliver a better performance on Sunday after a lackluster Olympic qualifying opener against Costa Rica. The Americans didn’t play like it though in the first half of Sunday’s qualifier against the Dominican Republic.

They endured another lackluster team display in the first half, but second-half substitute’s sparked the U.S. attack, which broke through with four second-half goals that helped them dispose of the feisty underdogs from the Dominican Republic.

Jackson Yueill broke the deadlock in the 61st minute when he deftly redirected a pass from Sebastian Saucedo into the Dominican net to give the Americans the lead before Hassani Dotson came off the bench to put the match to bed with a pair of outstanding finishes in a 4-0 victory in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The U.S. team’s second win in two Olympic qualifying matches will secure a place in the semifinal round if Mexico can beat or tie Costa Rica in their group-stage clash on Sunday night.

Kreis made six changes to the side that beat Costa Rica, but the fresh legs didn’t translate to many scoring chances or attractive soccer as the Americans struggle to break down the feisty Dominicans in the first half.

Even the halftime inclusion of Sebastian Soto for Jesus Ferreira couldn’t generate much for the American attack, but Kreis’ team finally found the breakthrough in the 61st minute when Yueill struck a clever side-heal shot to redirect a Sebastian Saucedo pass and give the Americans the lead.

Yueill’s opener came just before Kreis introduced Dotson and Djorjde Mihailovic and the pair provided an immediate spark to the U.S. attack, helping open up the Dominican defense.

Dotson scored his first goal just 11 minutes after entering, collecting a Mihailovic pass before completing an excellent finish.

The Minnesota United midfielder hit another well-struck finish just five minutes later, receiving another pass from Mihailovic to complete his brace and make the score 3-0.

Mihailovic finished the scoring in the 90th minute when he converted a Benji Michel cross to complete the 4-0 rout.

The Americans will now close out group play on Wednesday against Mexico with a chance to win its group ahead of the decisive semifinal round.

Comments

  1. A few small observations. I’m glad Glad was playing on the left. Hopefully he’s there for the rest of the tournament. Kessler >Pineda. Araujo >Herrera. Ochoa>Marcinkowski. Perea >Yueill. Can’t bench Yueill when the team votes you captain. No matter who Kreis subs, the subs come on the pitch with energy. Lewis isn’t effective on the left as Benji. Watching both matches, Dotson & Tessmann occupy the channels in the 4-3-3 system the best, in my opinion. At 6’4” Tessmann towers over everyone. Mihailovic is better as a LW. I’m relieved with 6 points. Group stage is over. Still would like to beat El Tri, but I agree that it won’t matter if we don’t win the semi!

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  2. It’s not a stretch to say the Mexican team is better (I still believe in these guys though)
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    But we don’t need to be better than Mexico right now
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    At this moment we just need to be better than Honduras/Canada or whoever we end up in the next game
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    Everything beyond that is bonus points

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    • I agree that it doesn’t matter to qualify and might even be counter productive to seek to resolve. However big picture I think you always need to be asking why are we not that standard. I saw a few minutes of their game, including a goal, and they just looked more familiar with each other.

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      • As usual with Mexican national teams, their passing is crisp–accurate an d quick. They move off the ball and rarely are caught in possession and dispossessed. Ideally you want a team with players who know where they are going to pass the ball even before they receive it. Mexico has that, the US doesn’t. This team plays much too slowly compared to Mexico. We have enough professionals playing at a relatively high level (compared to past youth teams)that I find this very frustrating that our players often can’t string more than 3 or 4 passes together.

      • I assume they get more of their U23s because so many of their players play at home. However the US knowing about its access issues doesn’t seem to be adjusting tactics to the players actually on hand.

      • No doubt CR created or were gifted a ton of chances but you lumped the two games together. We were so bad offensively for 60 minutes because we were defensive and also because we weren’t taking chances. Don’t pretend like DR had us in any trouble they had 4 total shots and only one of those was taken from inside the box and was an easy save. Plenty to critique in the performance but if your take was our defense was poor you simply didn’t watch the match.

      • To me the end to end stuff is out of control. If we ran a 451 or 442 we could bottle them up in the midfield and they wouldn’t even get to our box most of the game.

    • I don’t think the end to end stuff is intentional just a product of opponents with the NT and just the age level of the U23s if you’ve watched the other group matches they’ve all been pretty hectic just a product of the experience level even Mexico who has a lot of seasoned pros with NT experience

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      • i don’t think it helps it’s a watered down U23 roster. however my comparison would be to say, the wales game, where for periods of time when adams was dominating, they literally couldn’t get going anywhere, because he was winning the ball above the half line over and over. they then got the ball wide where the formation is vulnerable. my point is in both sets of games if you played more midfielders in a formation there would be little space for any opposing joy, we usually have ball winning mids, and we can play more their end and win the ball in the middle. otherwise if you want to pinch the forwards and mids inside in a 433 you are asking for wing runs all day, which is what happens. it is not a defensive formation. it is a punch counterpunch end to end formation that will entertain and perhaps favor you if you have superior talent and they show up in a vulnerable 433 right back. DR made us work for it by stuffing the midfield and taking advantage of the wing space inherent in the concept. this is not an accident. this is what your system creates. the mids are all in the middle. the space is on the wings.

    • The midfield is tepid and the system neither enhances us nor shuts down opponents. They didn’t select enough offense for this end to end 433 stuff. They didn’t run out a balanced and defensive enough formation to bottle up CR and DR who both looked inferior. I thought our system actually kept the other teams in the games.

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      • One of the goals by Dotson came off a 20 pass sequence in which every US player touched the ball before the goal. That is “the system”. Now can this group do that against Canada or Honduras is the question? Johnny seemed to be a big part of the problem he had terrible touch and seemed out of position throughout his shift. He also had the two best shots before Yueill finally scored so, there’s also that.

      • Dude you cannot pretend this is functioning right when we cannot score on a team that will go home winless for an hour. “Oh, but that one play they possessed.”. Yeah, games last 90 and involve more than one possession. Re the DMs they are clearly stuck in between the attacking sales pitch — formation — and the selection — which was a bunch of workhorse mids. I pointed this out before the tournament. You’re trying to use it as an excuse. I don’t care if they have 3 mids who defend because a 433 is a silly way to defend or did you watch how many chances the last two games.

  3. While agree that we’ve looked disjointed in the first 2 games, we also have to remember that this team is full of players who were not in season when this tourney began, so in essence they are finding their form as the games continue to be played. Also, and more importantly, both of the teams we’ve played to date have put 9-10 players behind the ball, making it harder to break teams down. So, not only are we watching a team full of guys in preseason form but also a team in preseason form trying to break down 2 teams that built a wall to play through. Mexico will be arrogant like always and play their style of free flowing soccer that we’ve all grown accuatomed to. This will allow us to better find spaces and play our style, and hopefully that will create an environment that gives us a chance to win the game.

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    • I think Mexico’s pressing will be much better though too and cause us some problems. We still don’t seem very confident with hitting any passes in the air, I’d guess because of the thin air. Last night you could see players recognize Vines and Araujo were open but they didn’t want to loft it too them and hit it 10 yards out of bounds like we did Thursday. That being said no need to put a lot into this next one Sunday is the game that counts.

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    • You could have had the MLS kids in camp for months. The “preseason fitness” argument doesn’t convince.

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      • I think in this game it was more form and decision making than fitness. That being said Johnny was one of our worst players and he’s in season.

    • This has been a historical problem with US teams, in season or not. Maybe by the end of a tournament they play together like a team, but rarely do they play that way on a regular basis or for a majority of the time. I can’t remember even one time when the US has played together as well as a Mexican team in the same competition.

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      • Maybe 2017 in both the U17 and U20 Concacaf Championships and for sure the 2018 U20s. But most of the stars of those teams are unavailable for this tournament whereas Mexico has almost all of their first choices. To be honest we haven’t really tried to play that way, with the exception of about three months under Klinsmann. We’ve never had this many technical and high soccer IQ players in our pool at one time, so we’ve always relied upon being organized, working hard, and having really athletic attacking players.

      • I am sure they don’t usually gather because MLS schedules would start as soon as February in recent years. But this year MLS starts i April. You could have had the U23s in camp since January when they were first brought in. They would only be “out of shape” because you had them in January sent them home brought them back.

    • I’m not sure the collective bargaining agreement what allow that to happen. I also don’t think clubs would have been too keen on players going through an extra two months of training for their players.

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      • US Soccer does not have a CBA with MLS or MLS’ union. The US used to have 2 month camps for camp cupcake games. The US camped people for weeks before Canada. You are pulling stuff out of a hat.

    • Actually IV they do their Union is called the USNSTPA they negotiate for compensation and working conditions. Also since your Jan-Mar camp would have all occurred outside of an international window clubs would have had to approve. Saying we’ve camp for the month Jan before is the same as camping from Jan. Thru March is exaggerating as well.

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      • Dude, a couple times including right before 94 they had a year round NT. Like that was your job. That remains one way of looking at the women’s concept, where they play more for the NT than their clubs. You’re then inaccurately implying the players would turn down a longer U23 camp when (a) we were in camp for weeks before the second pair of NL games, starting in October when the games were in November, (b) players are routinely in January camp for 4 weeks, and (c) players would likely be in club camp anyway. For that matter, GC players are often in camp for several weeks, before the tournament and then for about 3 weeks as it progresses. Is your argument that a 2 month U23 camp is outrageous labor practices but a 3 month preseason club camp is OK? You’re making stuff up.

        The better argument would be player access but then there is a reason it’s basically MLS offseason people and people not integrated in a European first team. You might not get the Euro age groupers for 2 months, but the point is in a tournament in the domestic offseason if a longer camp made them more familiar and ready, and we supposedly want this so bad……but let us speculate they would have a labor issue……

  4. The final score does not represent how bad offensively we were in the first 60 minutes. We have a long way to go if we want to score anything on Mexico. Lets see who Kreis rolls out against Mexico. Will he sit the ineffective players that he finally replaced on Sat night? At least the defensive was stronger in the middle with Kessler in there and made no mistakes (unlike CR game)

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  5. Considering all of the young talent unavailable for this tournament, the team is meeting expectations. All that is needed is a semi-final win next Sunday against an opponent from the weaker Group B bracket, and that appears to be within range. While team as a whole lacks attacking acumen, one can see enough talent from a few of these teenagers that with good coaching and game experience, they can be a role player or even a vital cog with the senior team. Since most of the top European talent will skip the Nations League and Gold Cup, it will be interesting to see who GB selects from this squad. That is an exercise for next Sunday.

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    • The talent is reduced but I don’t think he’s picking the right people at each line and the system/tactics do not maximize. It’s not as simple as not having as much as we could have.

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  6. So far Costa Rica is doing a solid job of frustrating Mexico except for the very early goal. CR came out like they did against the US in early going and Mexico made them pay. Overall Mexico looks stronger, but Costa Rica has settled into more aggressive and organized defending. I hate to pull for Mexico, but if their 1 goal lead holds up and even if CR grabs a tie, the US is into the semis.

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    • Finished 3-0 El Tri. Ticos have zero points and a -4 GD. They’ve been eliminated. US-Mexico match is simply for which seed from the other group we will play in the semis, which are like dual finals.

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  7. A win is always good, especially the result was 4-0.

    Man, the first half was a total disaster and crazy frustrating to say the least. Beside Andres Perea, Yueill, Johnny, Araujo and Vines had no clue how to advance the ball (it could be as well due to the lack of movements from the players in front of them) but kept passing back to the 2 center backs. During the first half Johnny, Vines, Araujo & Saucedo had so many bad touches that at times I was wondering if they’re really playing professional football in Bazil, MLS and Liga Mx. The situation finally became much better around the hour mark, and the subs made a big difference too. Honestly, besides Ochoa, Perea, Dotson & Mihailovic, I think only very few of these young U-23 guys are worthy of promoting to the senior MNT. Yueill, Ferreira & Soto are iffy at best.

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    • Oops, rewriting my previous comment. Beside Andres Perea, other US players such as Yueill, Johnny, Araujo and Vines had no clue how to advance the ball…..

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    • While I agree with your assessment, the first half wasn’t as bad as they played against Costa Rica. In that game they had a ton of unforced turn overs and really poor first touches. So that’s progress of a sort. The second half was more like they should have been playing from the start. At least they should be competitive with Mexico

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    • I thought Dotson was the most impressive. Great movement and very good finishing. Yueill’s goal was a fluke. Vines also showed well but his crosses were mostly ‘lost in space’. Lewis was left wide open by the Dominican defense but he could not take advantage. Hope to see more of Dotson.

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      • Can’t argue with Dotson or Mihailovic for that matter as the most impressive. But I also thought Perea was a level above most of the other players. Very calm and composed, rarely lost possession. Unfortunately for him, he plays a position where the full national team is (relatively) stacked with young players.

      • Lewis reminds me a lot of Robbie Findley. Both are speedy and coaches like his potential. In Findley’s case the US thought he was a potential star and took him to a World Cup where he did very little. After that he went to Nottingham Forest in England, but his career fizzled out and he never amounted to much. Lewis has the same kind of speed, but not enough skill and I think he is a wasted roster spot.Unless he improves I see him going the way of Findley, only without the trip abroad.

    • Gary that’s a good comparison, I think that’s why you see him used by Colorado as a super sub. The problem is it seems he and Michel are pretty similar players so one or the other has to start. Ebobisse would have brought something different, did you see his Jeremy’s interview last week he said basically he wasn’t physically or mentally ready for the camp in January. Recovery from head injuries is so different for everyone you can see why Kreis would have been reluctant not knowing when he’d be ready.

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      • The reason Lewis is in the U23 and senior teams is he has some actual assists ie there is a payoff despite the sloppiness. There are some players perceived as more talented who produce no goals. It’s a production business. I do think as the talent level continues to rise there will be more performers to displace him. But until then there is a place for a raw speedy productive but sloppy sub to try and create.

      • Just like Findley profited from a brief weak F period where we play Donovan and Dempsey as mids. When they were moved back to F and supplemented with AJ and Green and such, Findley’s competition becomes more stern and his flaws are decisive. But on a weaker team, it’s different. To be fair, I think the worm is turning on this team so fast Lewis probably plays little senior ball in quali.

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