BRIAN SCIARETTA - Wednesday, August 15, 2012
The United States national team has a difficult task ahead of themselves tonight as theyl take on archrival Mexico in a friendly at Azteca Stadium.
Mexico has regained the upper hand in the rivalry in recent years as they are emerging as a global power. Their U-23 team recently won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics and their U-17 team won the World Cup in 2011. Also last year, their U-20 team finished in third place at 2011 World Cup.
The United States team is struggling to buy into head coach Jurgen Klinsmann's system one year after he was hired. Coincidentally, Klinsmann's first game as US coach came against Mexico last August in a 1-1 draw in Philadelphia.
The US team does not have anything close to its top roster for this game. Regular starters Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Clarence Goodson, and Steve Cherundolo, and captain Michael Bradley elected to stay with their clubs.
Instead, Klinsmann is expected to go with a team that mixes some regular players along with a few regulars.
According to reports, the backline could be the most experimental area for the US team. Michael Orozco has been practicing at right back along with San Jose's Steven Beitashour. In central defense, Geoff Cameron will start and he will be partnered with either Kansas City's Matt Besler or Maurice Edu who is primarily a central midfielder but has occasionally played in defense. At left back, Fabian Johnson is clearly the top choice.
In the midfield, centrally Klinsmann's options are Pachuca's Jose Torres and Schalke's Jermaine Jones. It is expected that Danny Williams will see time in central midfield after being experimented as a right midfielder with the US team.
Landon Donovan will also start and is the most experienced US player on the roster. As the all-time leading US scorer, he could play either up top, centrally behind the forwards, or outside on the wings. Up top, Herculez Gomez is likely to start but Chris Wondolowski and Terrence Boyd could also see time at forward.
The US team has never defeated Mexico in Mexico and once again, El Tri will be the heavy favorites tonight against an inexperienced US team.
This game is the final friendly before World Cup qualifying resumes in September with a pair of games against Jamaica.