Mexico friendly last chance to impress for USMNT World Cup hopefuls

USMNT, Jurgen Klinsmann

Photo by Michael Janosz/ISIphotos.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The MLS-based U.S. Men’s National Team players will have one last chance to impress Jurgen Klinsmann in an up-close-and-personal setting on Wednesday, and what a stage it will be.

The U.S. is set for its final tune-up ahead of the selection of next month’s preliminary World Cup roster with a game against bitter rivals Mexico at University of Phoenix Stadium on Wednesday night (11 p.m. ET, ESPN/UniMas), and it should provide ample opportunity for the American players to state their cases. Much has been made in recent weeks about the potential debut of teenage sensation Julian Green, but the reality is that this friendly can serve as a chance for many players to boost their stocks against a very talented foe that will likely have the majority of the fan support.

From youngsters like Green and DeAndre Yedlin to experienced veterans like Maurice Edu and Kyle Beckerman, there is plenty to play for against El Tri in an atmosphere that likely will not be seen again until the ball gets rolling at the World Cup.

“It’s helpful to have a real game,” said Landon Donovan. “It’s going to be a game probably similar to what we can see in Brazil with a big stadium, a big crowd, big stakes, a lot on the line, and we feel like this is an opportunity to take a step forward in the right direction and make the most of it.”

While there is no denying that this game can help individuals improve their standings in Klinsmann’s much-analyzed depth chart, the Americans are out for a strong performance as a team. Playing Mexico always holds special significance and that is especially true for this friendly given that both sides have players attempting to convince they are deserving of a spot for Brazil.

El Tri might be missing ace striker Oribe Peralta, but still have plenty of talented players and will be led by veteran captain Rafa Marquez.

“They’re a very dangerous team,” said Graham Zusi, who scored the goal last year that saved Mexico from being eliminated in World Cup qualifying. “I think they didn’t have the 2013 that they would’ve liked to have, but in the past few games they’ve really improved and they’re always a dangerous team.”

The friendly will serve as a chance for several fringe U.S. players to state their cases, but it will also give Donovan, Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley the opportunity to play alongside one another. The three players who have for a long time served as integral parts to the American cause have not been on the field together since a qualifier in Guatemala on June 12, 2012.

Bradley said earlier this week that it has not felt that long, but the trio knows that this is a good opportunity against some good opposition to get back on the same page.

“We’re excited. It was nice to get back on the field with both of them in training this week,” said Donovan. “We don’t have a lot of time, but it’s been nice and I think for all of us the end of the tunnel is near. You can see the light and you can see Brazil in the forefront, so we’re excited about it. One last chance to show Jurgen up close what we’re about and we’re going to make the most of it.”

Two positions that likely will be looked at closely on Wednesday night are center back and right back. The former has been locked down for the past year by Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler, but the two have not gotten off to the best of starts in the MLS season. That could open the door for someone like Clarence Goodson to impress, but Klinsmann may not want to alter things too much given his fullback situation.

With Puebla denying DaMarcus Beasley’s release to join the U.S. roster and Brad Evans suffering an injury, Klinsmann is without his top choices at both outside spots in the defense. Yedlin, Michael Parkhurst and Tony Beltran are the main candidates to fill those places, and they know that a strong outing against El Tri could be very helpful in boosting their stock ahead of the start of the U.S.’s pre-World Cup camp in mid-May.

“I feel good that I’m here and have this opportunity, that’s for sure,” said Parkhurst. “I want to take advantage of this opportunity (Wednesday) night if I play from the beginning or if I get in there as a sub. I want to take advantage of every minute I can get because good performances from here will go a long way.”

Klinsmann said Tuesday that how his players do against Mexico will not make or break their chances, but that still doesn’t take away from the fact that they can seriously boost their chances of making the World Cup roster with strong showings.

The U.S. players are all too aware of that and they will try to make one final good impression against Mexico.

“We don’t talk about it between the guys but everybody knows it,” said Parkhurst. “The opportunities are dwindling. This is it. This is the time you have to play. You have to play well in order to be on that plane to Brazil.”

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74 Responses to Mexico friendly last chance to impress for USMNT World Cup hopefuls

  1. FRANK says:

    WHAT TIME IS THE SOCCER GAME ON TV WHY DIDNT YOU PUT THAT

  2. jaime bedolla says:

    They’re playing against a very watered down Mexican team, anything less than a win should be a big disappointment

    • James says:

      I know it’s Mexico and all, and I really hate loosing to them, but I disagree that a loss is inherently a big disappointment. First off, our team is equally, if not more, “watered down” than Mexico. This game is more of a tryout than it is a tuneup, and JK isn’t going to be coaching this game purely to win (ie subs will be made to get players looks, instead of purely tactical).

      I’m far more interested if we get good play between Donovan, Dempsey and Bradley. If that happens, and we get some solid performances from players Parkhurst, Yedlin, and Green, and end up tying or loosing, it won’t be that much of a disappointment, IMO.

      • Hogatroge says:

        We don’t have any excuses. With Bradley and Deuce back in MLS, we will have 6 field starters for Brazil on the pitch, and 2 of the 1st choice backups (Beckerman, Parkhurst).

        We will be weak at RB if Yedlin starts, but it’s still no excuse despite the talent on this Mexico squad.

        • James says:

          So we’ll start with 6 (ish) starters, 2 backups, and 3 fringe players. We’ll end with 5 (ish) starters, 1 backup, and 5 fringe players. I don’t see how the result is overly important in this game.

        • Kosh says:

          Meh, I’m with James on this. This game is bigger and more important than a simple win or a loss.

          Win, lose or tie some of the big names on here are going so the true test is for the guys who are on the bubble. Are they worth a spot? Are they worth a chance? Can they add something to our games down there when needed?

          I’d rather have those questions answered than a have a win.

        • Vic says:

          We are missing Johnson, Beasley, Jones, Howard and Bedoya. I think those are pretty significant players.

          • Lost in Space says:

            Don’t forget Jozy & Johannsson.
            We’re fielding the 3rd string Stiker (EJ), Keeper (Rimando), & Outside Backs (Parkhurst & Yedlin).

      • josh says:

        You spell words like disappointment correctly, use the word “inherently” appropriately, and spell losing “loosing?” You are clearly reasonably intelligent, and your comment is lucid and well-made. But “loosing?!” Gah!

        Sorry, my anti-OCD medication isn’t helping.

      • malkin says:

        *losing

    • Maykol says:

      Watered down? Some of these guys are in top form. Fabian, Brizuela, and Peña are playing great at the moment. Plus other good players like jimenez and Layun. Their attack is overall stacked with a solid defense. Our fullbacks look most suspect so im not sure about a win, for me, a 2-2 tie is more realistic

      • Ted Tran says:

        So what you’re saying is that Mexico has more depth? I guess…but thats always been the case, we know who our starting Xl are, Mexico’s changes all the time.

        • Maykol says:

          Our XI changes a lot as well. A year ago, who would have thought bedoya would go to brazil, some say he should start. Also the chances of aj or altidore starting in brazil i wpuld say are almost half and half, especially if AJ keeps playing well. And who knows, aj might even start on the wing. We have no idea if klinsman will start beas or FJ at LB either…

    • slowleftarm says:

      Result of the game is meaningless. Only thing that matters is the performance of individual players and how that impacts JK’s roster selection for Brazil.

      • Mason says:

        This.

        I mean… A win is nice and if player peform well it’s even likely, but the player performance is the key. Can they create chances and not allow them?

  3. Maykol says:

    Kinda scared for our fullbacks going up against Marco Fabian, especially Yedlin if he starts. But it will definitely be a good test/measurement for him.

  4. blokhin says:

    well, since none of these players have enough belief to challenge themselves in europe against the best, none of them are going to the World Cup, so who cares. You have to do as the coach said, go to where the best players and the best teams are and challenge and fight to beat out the guy next to you who is also trying to do his best and succeed…. so the starting 11 in Brazil will be:

    Jozy-AJ
    FJ-D Williams-Jones-Bedoya
    Ream-Onyewu-Brooks-Cameron
    Howard

    • slowleftarm says:

      JK says a lot of stupid things. Best to ignore him I find.

    • Adam says:

      That is a ridiculous starting 11. There is no way that 4 or 5 of those guys start. The most obvious starter, excluding Howard, is Michael Bradley but he is not in your 11. Why, because he has played in MLS for a few weeks? Duece will almost definitely start somewhere. Also, there is no chance that Tim Ream makes the team, much less starts at left back. You put waaaaayyyyy too much importance on playing in Europe. A lot of guys you left out have been successful in Europe. You don’t automatically become a worse player because you transfer to an MLS side.

    • Adam says:

      Oh I get it. Damn I really fell for that. Screw you internet for your inability to put over sarcasm properly.

    • ilikefreddyyesadu says:

      What did Brek Shea do to not warrant a spot on your sarcastic squad? Diskerud has the bigger gripe.

  5. Sargent Shultz says:

    In some ways, getting blown out may help us more than a win. I am not comfortable with some of JKs choices and losing might force him to reevaluate. The article is about some getting last looks? How about guys like Dempsey? that haven’t shown much in ages? At what point does he have to win his spot? Omar… Im not convinced… I think he could be embarrassed. I think Donovan will show well tonight. He has to.

    A win tonight on the other hand will give us a false sense of security going into Brazil. The teams there will be much tougher than Mexico and we looked like crap against the Ukraine. That was with a lot of starters playing.

    Very mixed feelings. I love to beat Mexico and I want to show well in Brazil but am not confident we will

    • away goals says:

      One of my favorite phenomena in sports: the loyal fan wanting a horrendous performance to force the hand of a manager.

      I’m in the same boat but for me the guy I want forced out wasn’t released by his club team.

      Oh and I also want jk to be forced to move dempsey from the advanced central midfield role he’s been ineffectively playing for the past 12 months.

      force force force

  6. Chris says:

    Donovan – Bradley – Dempsey

    I can’t believe it’s been so long since they were on the field together! I’m excited to see that trio again.

    • ilikefreddyyesadu says:

      I would love for us to put out an attacking 11 like this:

      Wondo – Dempsey
      Donovan – Bradley – Zusi
      ———— Edu————-
      Parkhurst—-Gonzo–Besler–Yedlin
      —————-Rimando

  7. jones says:

    So ussoccer .com seems to have changed their website and while it looks pretty good, I can’t find the new videos anymore. I finally just went over to youtube where it shows several new ones, but would like to know how to find these through the website – anyone? Or maybe I am just blind.

    (also, “Stories” as a content category is sort of dumb…)

    • bryan says:

      i complained about this as well. the Video link is found in the “Stories” section but only a few show up and there is no order to them. can’t sort by date or anything. they need to fix that ASAP.

  8. bryan says:

    “That could open the door for someone like Clarence Goodson to impress” – Goodson hasn’t had the best start to MLS either. he was owned by Lee Nguyen on the winner against the Revs.

    • SilverRey says:

      I want Goodson on the final 23, I think he’s our strongest back-up. But OG and Besler need this time to work together.

  9. Omar says:

    Omar is probably good enough to logically slot in as one of the starters come Brazil. He might even play well for a while but he will, beyond a shadow of a doubt, make one or multiple giant mental errors that will cost us a game/games and ultimately a pass out of the group.

    • Sargent Shultz says:

      I also think he is a weak link. We’ll see tonight cause Mexico will go right at the defense and they’ll either swim or sink. Of course if they sink, it won’t be Omar’s fault… it will be Parkhurst’s…. even if the attack starts on the opposite side of the the field

  10. bryan says:

    link to youtube.com

    Green clearly training on the starting XI team in this drill. unfortunately, Yedlin wearing yellow with what appears to be the second team. Edu and Wondo also wearing yellow. Bradley, Dempsey, LD, and Beckerman wearing what Green is.

    hmmmmm, interesting.

    • bryan says:

      Parkhurst also in yellow at LB so it was probably just an offense v. defense drill.

      • KingGoogleyEye says:

        bryan: first, kudos for being able to identify so many players without numbers.

        second, it panned too fast for me to see what Besler/Omar were wearing. If yellow, then that bodes well for Yedlin.

        • bryan says:

          lol it took a couple of tries (instead of working, this is what im doing…sorry boss). i was unsure who Zusi was at first. that one took awhile and i only noticed Parkhurst at the last second. Bradley’s shot was just too fast!

          but yeah, i couldn’t tell where Besler/Omar were. i’m starting to think it was a drill for the starting offense vs. the starting defense with Wondo and Edu wearing yellow to fill in the space.

          but i do take back that LD was there. so maybe Green was just filling in or alternating with him.

    • John says:

      I tried to make since of that stuff from photos yesterday, but everyone was switching back and forth so it was hard to. The one thing I did notice however was Klinsmann really talking to Yedlin and Zusi together. Perhaps running over responsibilities covering for each other on the right? I don’t know could be nothing as well.

      • bryan says:

        interesting. i didn’t see these photos. sounds like JK is certainly working with those too then. i’m going to go ahead and say Yedlin is officially starting this game.

      • KingGoogleyEye says:

        JK was either prepping Zusi and Yedlin for their crucial roles in the starting XI in Brazil…or it was their turn to pick up lunch and Klinnsman wanted to make very clear that he does *not* want banana peppers on his sub.
        :)

  11. Sargent Shultz says:

    And Lee is another one that hasnt had a NAT sniff in years. Very solid player. Good with the ball, fast, high work rate… would put Sascha to shame

  12. KingGoogleyEye says:

    I’m not sold on ponytail/bun Zusi. Please go back to the headband.

    • Morty says:

      The headband will fit perfectly with the Bomb Pop kit!!!

      Genius!!!

      I like the way you thinks!!!

    • SilverRey says:

      For this game he needs to go a little bit more Saintly – go with the free flowing locks!