USMNT

Preview: USMNT v Mexico

On Saturday, the US Men’s National Team faces off against its fiercest rival, Mexico, in a one-off play-in game to qualify for next year’s Confederations Cup (9:30 pm:FS1, Fox Soccer 2Go, Fox Sports Go, Univision, Univision Deportes, Univision Deportes En Vivo). The game is easily the most important for either side since the World Cup, but neither comes into it under ideal circumstances.

The state of Mexican affairs

In Mexico’s case, they are without a permanent coach. Juan Carlos Osorio will be taking over the team following the game, but on Saturday Mexico will be coached by interim manager Ricardo Ferretti. Mexico is also suffering from injuries, with Giovani dos Santos and Jose Juan Vazquez withdrawing from the squad. Captain Andres Guardado and veteran defender Rafa Marquez are both in the squad but coming off injuries of their own that may limit or prevent their involvement.

And while Mexico is playing this game due to their win in the summer’s Gold Cup, it would be wrong to say the team is in top form. Two of their victories in the Gold Cup were heavily affected by bad refereeing decisions benefiting them, and they are winless in their last two games, drawing 3–3 with Trinidad and Tobago and 2–2 with Argentina.

The state of US affairs

Though, if form is the best indicator for who wins this game, the US is certainly the underdog. After seeming to turn around a lackluster string of results in the spring, the US has had a pretty terrible summer, losing out in the Gold Cup in humiliating fashion and following the tournament up with an underwhelming win over Peru then a humbling loss to Brazil, where the team looked miles off the pace and utterly unprepared to play a game of this magnitude. But here we are.

On the bright side, injuries are not a large concern for the US. The roster is full of experience, and important players like Clint Dempsey and Fabian Johnson have returned following time out with injuries. Johnson is in camp for the explicit purpose of playing right back, while DaMarcus Beasley is expected to play on the left, giving the US an excellent blend of veteran defensive knowledge and offensive ability in the outside back positions, which have been big weaknesses for the US over the last six months. Center back still presents some questions, as neither John Brooks nor Omar Gonzalez are available, but neither had been convincing in their most recent appearances. Matt Besler is in camp, as is Geoff Cameron, who has been playing center back with distinction for his club team, Stoke City, in England’s top flight.

The Klinsmann question

Head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is under more pressure now than ever before, with calls from various pundits, including spurned superstar Landon Donovan, for him to be fired if the US loses. Critics see in Klinsmann a lack of accountability for the team’s failures and a reluctance to use players that could help the US attack, specifically playmakers like Benny Feilhaber and Sacha Kljestan. Those are reasonable criticisms, but will it happen? If the US loses, will Klinsmann be fired?

In a word, no. Sunil Gulati, head of US Soccer, is on record saying Klinsmann’s position is secure. Too much time and energy have been expended, first in pursuing Klinsmann and then in carrying out his ideas throughout the structure of US Soccer, for Klinsmann to be fired. Gulati and Klinsmann are playing a long game. One can reasonably disagree with whether their strategy will bear fruit or if it is taking too long, but they have a plan and this result will not affect it.

Predictions

So who wins? Belief certainly seems to be on Mexico’s side, and the game will be played in Los Angeles, which will feel like a home game for the team from south of the border.

However, Klinsmann is undefeated against Mexico, as both a player and coach. From the US Soccer website:

As U.S. head coach, Klinsmann’s 3-0-3 record against El Tri is the longest unbeaten run any MNT manager has earned against Mexico, having arrived at that record by getting results at home and on the road.

That is, of course, a very small sample, and no indication that the US will continue to avoid defeat versus Mexico. At the same time, this group of players has no sense of fear in playing Mexico now, and will not be timid.

While Chicharito may be confident, and another Dos a Cero unlikely, the US wins, 2–1.

12 Comments

  1. should be an interesting match………..I don’t know about the usual 2-0 though. Something tells me this going 1-0 either way………to much at stake to play real wide open footy…both squads are going to come out pretty conservative….just a hunch. Thoughts?

    • el Pachyderm says:

      I think the Mexican team always stands a greater chance of beating us than us beating them despite recent turns.
      .
      Similar to Tim Howard ~ I do think the Mexicans have a chip on their shoulder despite coaching issues…course I wouldn’t have said it out loud 2 days before kick off… and see them winning this game.
      .
      Nothing in the last 6 months gives me any belief USMNT wins on Saturday. It has been drab unimaginative US soccer at its worst.
      .
      1-0. Mexico.

      • I agree. I have Mexican buddies who mention this all the time……I still have a blast with them every time we beat El Tri! They are salty, they have been salty for 15 years now. They are still a better footballing nation than we are on the whole…..its culturally ingrained there. But for all their talent….they haven’t really impressed lately either. I still think their biggest accomplishment over the last year was the Copa America….not the Gold Cup. They sent a B side down there and still played respectively and held their own……..we could never do that!

  2. This goes down to goalkeeping. If Guzan has a good night than its another Dos a Cero for the US. If they spot Mexico one or two goals in the first half they’ll be watching the Confederation’s Cup on TV.

  3. Serious question: As a US fan, would it be ok to drink margaritas while watching the game as long as it is referred to as “drinking the blood of my enemy”?

    • that depends on how much stick you can take from your buddies about what type of dude drinks margaritas!!!! If the “blood of my enemies” helps deflect some of it…….by all means. And I’m just kidding with you CPfiefdawg!

  4. OneManWolfpack says:

    US score early and late. I agree with Jeremy – 2-1 US.

  5. In thinking about probable results for the Sat. game, If the USA losses, why is no one thinking about getting rid of Sunil Gulati? Is he getting to be a little like Sepp Blatter? Why is he untouchable? He has to bear as much blame as JK. He has outlived his usefulness.

  6. I agree with Dr. K. The whole Fifa-us soccer thing stinks. And JK never takes responsibility for the team’s losses. I’m pulling for Mexico anyway bc I hate all the U.S.’s players since they mostly play for other MLS teams and are mostly a bunch of crybabies (Zusi especially). When a Union player gets a bona fide chance then maybe I’ll pull for the USMNT.

  7. Hahaha. On a lighter note. Jurgen Klopp was unveiled today at Anfield….and he referred to himself as ” the Normal One”. Gives a f#$k you to Jose in his first presser……..love it.

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