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U.S. women’s soccer team plays Mexico with Olympics at stake

United States v Costa Rica: Group A - 2020 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying

HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 03: Christen Press #20 of USA celebrates with his team mates the 1st goal during the Group A game between the United States and Costa Rica as part of the 2020 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying at BBVA Compass Stadium on February 3, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)

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All that stands between the U.S. women’s soccer team and a seventh straight Olympic berth is Mexico.

The Americans and Mexicans meet in the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament semifinals on Friday in Carson, Calif. The winner goes to Tokyo. The loser is eliminated from Olympic qualifying.

While the U.S. and Mexico have a fierce rivalry in men’s soccer, the U.S. women dominate the neighbors to the south. The Americans own a 36-1-1 record in the all-time series.

That one loss was memorable. It came in 2011 World Cup qualifying, forcing the U.S. into must-wins against Costa Rica and Italy to grab the last spot in the World Cup.

The U.S., ranked No. 1 in the world, rolled into the semifinals.

It won its three group-stage matches by a combined 18-0 against world No. 37 Costa Rica, No. 68 Panama and No. 72 Haiti. All time, the U.S. is 18-0 in Olympic qualifying with a goal differential of 106-1 (not counting matches played after it already clinched qualification).

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup champion team, is here.

Mexico is ranked 26th in the world and once qualified out of CONCACAF and into the Olympics -- in 2004. It did qualify for the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, but has never won a match at either major tournament.

It did well to reach the semifinals, beating Jamaica and St. Kitts and Nevis before falling to Canada 2-0 on Tuesday. Canada, ranked eighth in the world, gets Costa Rica in the other winner-to-Tokyo semifinal on Friday.

Sunday’s final has no bearing on Olympic qualification.

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