Featured / USMNT

Preview: USA vs. Mexico

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

Location: Lincoln Financial Field

Game time: Wednesday, 9:00pm ET

TV: ESPN2

Following the recent appointment of Jurgen Klinsmann as the coach of the US Mens National Team, the focus of US Soccer has turned to Philadelphia, where the Nats will play host to Mexico on Wednesday night in an effort to kick off Klinsmann’s US career by turning over a three match losing streak against their arch-rivals. Despite the inconsequential nature of the match, the US will appreciate the opportunity to immediately get another shot at Mexico following El Tri’s reversal of a two goal deficit in this summer’s Gold Cup final, where they ran out 4-2 winners.

With little time to get settled, and even less to put together a squad, Klinsmann’s side is not dissimilar from one that would have been selected by his predecessor Bob Bradley, although he has shown new favor for players based in Mexico, calling in four players who play their soccer south of the border.

Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis)

When asked about what the return to Philly means to him, Orozco Fiscal cracked a smile. “I’m just happy to be out here and hopefully I can get a couple minutes in and show that I still love Philly, I love Philly 100% and if I could come back, I would.” Considering how he is playing for San Luis, they are unlikely to let their talented center back get away any time soon. Orozco Fiscal’s quickness and excellent touch allow him to slide outside as a fullback and it will be interesting where he plays if he gets on the pitch against Mexico. Along with Tim Ream, Orozco Fiscal represents a preference for smaller, faster, more-skilled centerbacks who are best suited to combat the speed the US will encounter throughout their qualifying campaign in CONCACAF.

Jose Torres (Pachuca)

A bit of an outlier in Bob Bradley’s system, Torres is a deep-sitting distributor. Under Bradley, two defensive midfielders ruled the formation and, given his propensity to work from near the center circle, Torres’ game was not a match, with his excellent vision and passing being counteracted by the fact that he rarely makes forays high up the pitch into the opponents box. His selection demonstrates that Klinsmann believes there is a place for him in the National Team, but only time will tell exactly where he fits into the team.

Edgar Castillo (Club America)

Frozen out during Bob Bradley’s reign, Klinsmann’s arrival has seen an immediate call up for the former Mexican international, who alongside with German-born teammate Jermaine Jones, transferred his allegiances to the United States having never featured in anything other than a friendly. Klinsmann commented that Castillo’s versatility at left back and left midfield for Club America was a valuable asset for the US and, given the much publicized struggles of the left side of the US defense, Castillo seems a likely candidate in the competition to win the job.

DeMarcus Beasley (Puebla)

Since his arrival, Beasley has seen his new club, Puebla move from a 4-4-2, to a 4-3-3 and finally to a 3-5-2, with Beasley required to play varying roles on a day-to-day basis. When the PSP asked what he can offer to this US squad, Beasley said, “I’ve played pretty much all positions up and down the left flank. I can still do all the same things I’ve done in the past and I still feel confident in myself that I can play at this level.”

Potential Lineup

With the regular log jam of defensive center midfielders—four in all—and only two recognized strikers in the squad, now might be the time to experiment with a 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1, allowing both Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones to support a true attacking center midfielder like Freddy Adu in a midfield triangle. With a veteran striker like Edson Buddle holding the ball up top, Landon Donovan and Brek Shea can use their speed to get in behind the Mexican defense and would have plenty of freedom to roam the wings, as well as cut into any space that Buddle vacates.

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Goalkeeper: Tim Howard

Defenders: Steve Cherundolo, Tim Ream, Carlos Bocanegra, Edgar Castillo

Midfielders: Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Freddy Adu, Jermaine Jones, Brek Shea

Forward: Edson Buddle

Outcome

As much as a victory over Mexico would feel good, the only meaningful aspect of this game is Jurgen Klinsmann seeing as much as he can of his new charges, so expect subs galore. Fringe players like Orozco Fiscal, Beasley, Torres, Ricardo Clark and Kyle Beckerman will all see this as their main audition for the new coach and should put in their best shifts as they seek to impress and cement themselves in the team with World Cup qualifying around the corner.

Players to watch

Brek Shea

It seems strange that, at the beginning of the season, a lot of Dallas-related talk focused on whether Shea should be turned into a left fullback. Standing at 6′-3″ and possessing excellent speed, strength and the full array of technical skills, Shea has gone the other direction for Dallas, moving higher up the pitch into an attacking role that has seen him bag nine goals in the first half of the MLS season.

Shea has already played once for the US in Philadelphia, but when Colombia visited PPL Park last year, he was deployed as a left wing forward that was completely detached from a midfield comprised of defensive minded players. For Shea to be at his best, he needs room to run at people and he will likely get a chance to roam the left touch line, dropping deep to look for work, while also providing a dangerous threat from the US when he gets into the box for aerial challenges.

Bill Hamid

Someday the Tim Howard era will end. When that day comes, who will be the next generation’s great American goalkeeper? With his selection, 20 year-old DC United shotstopper Bill Hamid jumps to the head of a class that includes Chicago’s Sean Johnson, Celtic’s Dominic Cervi and hopefully soon, the Union’s Zac MacMath.

Hamid has all the attributes of a great goalkeeper: he has good size, excellent athleticism and lightning quick reflexes. Despite his young age, earning Klinsmann’s seal of approval so quickly may have punched Hamid’s ticket out of town, given the manner in which European clubs scour the US scene in search of young goalkeeping prospects. If he gets a half against Mexico, watch for his confidence and ability to marshal his defense, as that is the most challenging part of the game for a young keeper. He has nothing but time on his side to grow, but if the confidence comes sooner rather than later, he could become Howard’s consistent understudy very soon.

One Comment

  1. I like the lineup, though I want to see Torres in for Jones. Let Bradley play the destroyer and break up attacks, then play the ball off to Torres who can spring the attack forward.

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