USA vs. Mexico: A Look Ahead

DonovanGuardado (ISIPhotos.com)

The U.S. Men's National Team will take the field at Estadio Azteca tonight trying to beat a Mexico team riding a wave of confidence and good form. The Americans will also be trying to win in a stadium they have never won in, a city they have never won in, and a country they have never won in.

All while playing with what can be best described as a B team.

No problem. Right?

It won't be an easy task, but Jurgen Klinsmann is using tonight's match as an opportunity to get some younger players playing time, and to try some new things (like Maurice Edu at centerback). It could lead to an ugly loss, but Klinsmann is confident his team can give the Mexicans a real battle.

Before we dig into tonight's clash with some observations and a breakdown of the match-ups, here are some stories for you to read to get you ready for tonight:

Here is my FOX Soccer breakdown of Mexico

Here is a good profile on struggling Mexican midfielder Pablo Barrera

Several USMNT players discuss the challenge of playing at Azteca

A good fact page on the USA-Mexico rivalry

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Now, let's take a closer look at tonight's match-up, starting with the projected lineups for both teams:

PROJECTED LINEUPS FOR USA VS. MEXICO

USAvMexicoLineups

Some thoughts:

Maurice Edu isn't completely unfamiliar with playing centerback. He played it for the USA in the 2008 Olympics, and started a match there against Poland under former head coach Bob Bradley. He could be liability in the aerial battle, but he's strong and technically solid, which gives the USA someone who can distribute out of the back. Now he just needs to sort out the defending part of the game.

Geoff Cameron will face his toughest international test to date in this one. Whether being matched up with the speedy Chicharito Hernandez or the tricky Aldo DeNigris, Cameron will need to be very sharp or things could get ugly in a hurry.

This projection has Mexico starting Edgar Gerardo Lugo, but Chepo De La Torre could easily go with Angel Reyna as the playmaker in the 'El Tri' attack. Both are mobile players who will cause problems for Kyle Beckerman if Beckerman is the player given the deep-lying midfield role for the USA. If Klinsmann goes with Jermaine Jones in that role then the USA would have the athlete to neutralize Mexico's leading playmaker.

The Pablo Barrera-Fabian Johnson match-up is a vital one (assuming Barrera starts). Barrera has been struggling on the club side, but De La Torre has a lot of faith in the former West Ham winger. If Johnson can neutralize him, and also get into the attack, the USA will have a much better chance of earning a result in Mexico City. In fact, I would make the argument that if Fabian Johnson was on the USA 2011 Gold Cup team, the USA beats Mexico in the final.

If there is  match-up that has to worry U.S. fans, it's Andres Guardado taking on U.S. national team rookie Steven Beitashour. if Klinsmann does, in fact, start Beitashour at right back, that will be a make-or-break decision for the United States. Guardado is the best midfielder Mexico has, and if Beitashour doesn't play well, and lets the Estadio Azteca environment overwhelm him, then Guardado could wind up doing what Barrera did to the USA in the 2011 Gold Cup Final. That said, if Beitashour comes out and locks down Guardado, Klinsmann will suddenly have himself a new right back option (which would make Tim Chandler's indecision that much easier to take).

Who else could play at right back if not Beitashour? Michael Orozco Fiscal has experience at fullback. Much like Edu's centerback experience, Orozco Fiscal played fullback at the 2008 Olympics. It wasn't exactly a memorable stint there for him, as some may recall.

Terrence Boyd will be in for a good physical battle against Francisco 'Maza' Rodriguez, a big centerback who won't be pushed around easily. Boyd isn't just a bruiser though. He has wheels for a big man, and could could give Rodriguez if he gets service in space.

The better match-up up top could be Mexico standout Hector Moreno against U.S. striker Herculez Gomez. Moreno is Mexico's best defender, and will likely match up with Gomez if he doesn't wind up trying to contain Landon Donovan.

Yes, Donovan is the key to the U.S. attack. His mobility and ability to attack from a variety of places on the field will make him difficult for Mexico to account for, but you wonder how much the altitude at Azteca will keep Donovan from being able to buzz around for a full match. Donovan will also need to help out defensively when Mexican right back Severo Meza gets forward.

Tim Howard is the wild card. No, he didn't have his best game in the 2011 Gold Cup Final, but he has had outstanding performances in the past that have helped overmatched U.S. teams gain results against strong competition. The U.S. will need one of those from Howard tonight in order to have any chance of securing a win or tie.

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What do you think of tonight's match? What battle are you most looking forward to? How do you see the match going?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Mexican Soccer, U.S. Men's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

58 Responses to USA vs. Mexico: A Look Ahead

  1. cps says:

    Really looking forward to this- win, lose or draw. Hope Herc nets the game winner.

  2. Ryan Nanez says:

    anybody remember that feeling 3 years ago when charlie davies scored that goal at azteca? lets hope boyd or gomez can replicate that. LETS GO USA!!!

  3. somedude says:

    Alan Gordon to score the winner in the 93rd minute.

  4. Kevin_Amold says:

    I want Gomez out there, and I’d like to see Danny Williams play for us but not out right. play him where he’s comfortable.

  5. trickhog says:

    On a quick counter… Boyd lays the ball off into open space where a streaking Donovovan gets to it and pushes into the box… waiting for Ochoa to commit… then passing it to a totally unmarked Gomez who scores the goal…

    I can see it now. The US celebrates and we only lose the game 3-1…

    :)

  6. Kevin_Amold says:

    Yes. Great moment.

  7. NE Matt says:

    We could see a 1-0 USA win, a 0-0 tie, or a big Mexican win. I can’t see an even high scoring game that ends in a win or tie for either team. If they break us down early and score, it could signal the opening of the flood gates. However, if we hold on we may be able to find stretches of the game where we can dictate play and snatch a goal, or hit them on a counter and steal a result.

  8. Kevin_Amold says:

    I’m going to bring Davies’ jersey to the bar with me to honor him.

  9. yaw says:

    why bring in Wondo if he isn’t going to start? Dude has like 12 games to score 10 goals to beat Lassiter’s record. He doesn’t need this call-up

  10. yaw says:

    Stanky Leg. It hasn’t been performed in quite a while

  11. yaw says:

    who are williams and Johnson?

    I don’t watch the Bundesliga so give me a synopsis

  12. Brain Guy says:

    I do not have a good feeling about this game, especially if the two relatively inexperienced center backs shown above start for the U.S. Unless Boyd’s physicality can cause big problems for Mexico’s defense, I can foresee a whole lot of frustration for the U.S. attack.

    Maybe I’m just preparing myself for the worst . . .

  13. ARNY says:

    why wasn’t Clarence Goodson called up?

  14. HoboMike says:

    Really??

    Fabian Johnson is a LB/LM for Hoffenheim that’s been our best defender in basically every match he’s suited up for. Left-footed, great crosser of the ball who loves to push forward. By far our X-factor. Has locked down our LB position for the next 10 years.

    Williams is a CM/CDM for his club team that Klinsmann has played out of position on the wing for the 4-5 times he’s played for us, but was very instrumental when we beat Italy. Has almost no pace, but I’d like to see what he does in his natural position.

  15. HoboMike says:

    My “Really” comment was more directed towards Johnson, who is a beast.

    And, unlike someone else who shall remain nameless, he is cap-tied to the US.

  16. Kevin_H says:

    Johnson’s played for USMNT a few times now and I think has solidified his role as LB. He’s very comfortable going forward but some see his defensive skills as a liability. I’m pretty sure he’s played on the wing and LB for his club team.

  17. EndangeredMD says:

    This seems to be a good time to consider Brek Shea in central defense. He has played this postion before, and has tremendous skill. He needs his ego stroked a little.

  18. whoop-whoop says:

    Thank you for clarifying things.

  19. Sean says:

    This is true. He isn’t technically a defender, he was moved there after the winter break in the Bundesliga. Prior to that, he was the assist leader in the league from right midfield/wing. Also, he didn’t need to be cap tied, as he had to file a one time switch with FIFA after representing Germany in the U21 Euro’s. Finally, he is naturally right footed, just really solid with his left.

  20. whoop-whoop says:

    Sorry, but… feeding him to the wolves by putting him in at Centerback against Mexico in Azteca could quite possibly be the most damaging thing Klinsman could do to Brek’s ego…. unless of course maybe he made him do do wearing a skirt.

  21. bryan says:

    i’d rather Williams start in the spot Beckerman is. just to see how he does.

  22. QuakerOtis says:

    W.T.F.?

  23. ARNY says:

    hey who do you guys think is a better striker Sergio Aguero or Gonzalo Higuain?

    also when will Miroslav Klose ever retire to let the next generation of strikers start for Germany

  24. lioncourage says:

    so is our experiment with Tyson Chandler over?

    this is O/T but we have a lot of German/American players born of unions from their fathers serving over there. But what about in Holland or Italy or England or in Norway? There must be a few of those kids interested in soccer. JK should look them up

  25. robert daniels says:

    I’d like to think differently but…we are going to get worked tonight.

  26. StatesideSupporter says:

    Yeah, he’s going back to the Knicks despite a really great Olympic showing. Really didn’t have the footwork or ball skills to keep up at this level…

    Sorry, had to do it…

  27. RLW2020 says:

    it really comes down to the Cb’s, weither its Edu, Cameron, Besler or Orozco we will need a freak performance from the two that are picked. Every big game we have won its been all about a career performance from our cb’s: Demerit vs. Spain/England, Goodson vs. Italy and a few others…

  28. RLW2020 says:

    from what i have hear Tyson Chandler has no interest in playing for the USNT and will stay with the Knicks.

  29. Joel J says:

    I don’t know Tyson Chandler was solid for the Knicks in the Center position… :)

  30. RLW2020 says:

    still think the stanky leg should be the official goal celebration of the USNT.

  31. Michael Stypulkoski says:

    So many Negative Nancies, it’s like reading an England national team board! I don’t expect a great performance out of a ragtag group, but where is that incessant American optimism!?

  32. SilverRey says:

    If anything, it can only help him. After training all week at the speed of the MNT (along with his two teammates), he’ll come back to a much slower Montreal defense. I think the boost will be there.

    I have a feeling we’ll see him on the pitch in Mexico by the end of the game.

  33. SilverRey says:

    It will come back when we field our full team at Azteca – one that has more than 24 hours to get acquainted…

  34. 2tone says:

    Because he is horrible.

  35. 2tone says:

    Thats actually a pretty good starting 11. LETS GO USA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  36. Bighead says:

    F Mexico. They suck!!!!!!

  37. louis z says:

    he,he,he

  38. Louis Z says:

    I see it more coming down to if our RB holds his own.

  39. Gillyking says:

    LOL…Trickhog.. however it’s looking more like 5-1 imho..

  40. Gillyking says:

    I think Mike Tyson might add some toughness though.. lol

  41. Kelso says:

    Tim Howard is the wildcard???

  42. RB says:

    Pero nos van a aplastar… :-(

  43. Felix says:

    I think he’s filming another episode House Hunters International.

  44. Josh says:

    Am I the only one that wants to see Besler play?

    CB has been the most unstable position for the USMNT for years. He plays CB as a regular position unlike most of the guys we’re trying to force into the position. I understand this isn’t an easy game to get your first experience, but we need somebody who can play the position for good, not another temporary fix

  45. sandtrout says:

    Hilarious!

  46. Benny says:

    Puerto Rico just scored on Spain!!!!!!!!!!

  47. louis z says:

    he didn’t even made the 18 list.

  48. louis z says:

    news update, looks like Johnson will be playing RB

  49. Thebumswillalwayslose says:

    Just saw the line-up posted on US Soccer’s FB page.
    Gomez, Donovan, Torres, Jones, Beckerman, Williams, Castillo, Edu, Cameron, Johnson.

    Your guess is as good as mine in terms of how that’s gonna shape up on the field.

  50. Game Changa says:

    Attention the Game has been re-named to SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES Vs. MEXICO

  51. beachbum says:

    Thanks for the write up and all the links Ives, great stuff. The call for Tim to play big is key key key!

    “Tim Howard is the wild card. No, he didn’t have his best game in the 2011 Gold Cup Final, but he has had outstanding performances in the past that have helped overmatched U.S. teams gain results against strong competition. The U.S. will need one of those from Howard tonight in order to have any chance of securing a win or tie.”

    GO USA!!!

  52. beachbum says:

    just saw the lineup for USA

    Castillo at LB, Williams right flank midfield, Torres in the hole behind the strikers

    OK, let’s see how this works!!!

  53. beachbum says:

    4-3-1-2

  54. Vic says:

    Not thrilled with the line-up. Johnson should be at LB where he’s comfortable, Williams should play RB where he’s played before and Castillo should play left mid where he’s comfortable. That would push Torres more into the middle where he’s comfortable. Switch four players around and make everyone comfortable.

  55. beachbum says:

    where Torres deploys will matter on the left, and can he make more headway than Barrera

    the other formation shown had him Torres in the hole…we’ll see. either way, Torres’ play early is key; he’ll see the ball and has to make passes and plays, others moving off of him, and he has to defend well, tough!

    Go Jose Francisco Torres!!!

  56. Michael Stypulkoski says:

    Oh ye of little faith!

  57. Rich says:

    Pero que paso??? USA 1 Mexico 0 en Estadio Azteca!!!

  58. Rich says:

    2 great saves to assure the victory!!!