Uriel Antuna scored following a sloppy giveaway by Sebastian Soto in the 45th minute as Mexico beat the United States 1-0 in Guadalajara on Wednesday night in qualifying for the men’s Olympic soccer tournament.
Both teams already were assured of advancing from Group A to semifinal berths on Sunday. The United States finished Group B in second place at 2-1 and will play Honduras, unless Canada beats the Catrachos in Thursday’s finale of Group B.
Mexico, the 2012 Olympic champion, won its 14th straight Olympic qualifier dating to 2008 and finished first in Group A.
Semifinal winners from the North and Central American and Caribbean region get the final two places in the 16-nation field for the Olympics, to be played from July 21 to Aug. 7 in Tokyo, Kashima, Miyagi, Saitama, Sapporo and Yokohama.
Chivas winger Antuna,who spent 2019 on loan to at LA Galaxy from Manchester City, picked up a loose ball about 35 yards from goal that Soto mis-hit a casual backpass following a ball upfield from Henry Kessler. Antuna took several touches to keep space from Kessler and Mauricio Pineda before cutting inside and beat goalkeeper David Ochoa with a right-footed shot for his second goal of the tournament.
The U.S. men failed to qualify for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, a trend that was followed by the failure of the senior national team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Because of the delay caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, FIFA kept eligibility to players born Jan. 1, 2007, or later. Each Olympic team can use three wild-card players over the age limit.
U.S. coach Jason Kreis made six changes to his starting lineup for the second straight match, giving Kessler at central defense and Soto at forward their first starts and reinserting inserting Ochoa, Andres Herrera, and midfielders Hassani Dotson and Djordje Mihailovic, who started the opening 1-0 win over Costa Rica.
Kreis made a triple substitution in the 61st minute, inserting Jackson Yueill, Jonathan Lewis and Jesus Ferreira, who carried a yellow card from the opener and would be suspended with another. Taylor Tessman entered in the 76th for Hassani Dotson, who appeared to turn his left ankle. Dotson scored twice against the Dominicans.
Sebastian Jurado replaced Mexico goalkeeper Luis Malagon in the 39th minute after the starter appeared to injury a wrist in a collision.
Clubs do not have to release players for Olympic qualifying or the Olympics, denying most of the best-known players from tournament teams.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Costa Rica routed the Dominican Republic 5-0 in a matchup of eliminated teams. Randall Leal of Major League Soccer’s Nashville scored twice, and Manfred Ugalde, Bernald Alfaro and Aaron Salazar had one goal each.