This summer, El Tri made it to the World Cup Round of 16 before being losing 2-0 to Brazil. Mexico has been without a permanent coach since Juan Carlos Osorio’s July resignation.
The team is coming off of a disastrous 4-1 loss to Uruguay on Friday night, which was interim head coach Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti’s first game in charge.
Despite dominating possession against Uruguay, (64%) Mexico struggled defensively. It comes into this match a 2-3 record in its last 5 matches.
This El Tri side is clearly a B team, as it lacks star players such as Guillermo Ochoa, Andres Guardado, Carlos Vela, and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.
Goalkeepers (2): Hugo González (Necaxa), Gibrán Lajud (Tijuana)
Defenders (7): José Abella (Santos Laguna), Oswaldo Alanís (Real Oviedo/ESP), Edson Álvarez (Club América), Jesús Angulo (Tijuana), Gerardo Arteaga (Santos Laguna), Jesús Gallardo (Monterrey), Luis Rodríguez (Tigres UANL)
Midfielders (8): Erick Aguirre (Pachuca), Roberto Alvarado (Cruz Azul), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy/USA), Jonathan González (Monterrey), Víctor Guzmán (Pachuca), Elías Hernández (Cruz Azul), Diego Lainez (Club América), Orbelín Pineda (Guadalajara)
Forwards (4): Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers/ENG), Rodolfo Pizarro (Monterrey), Alan Pulido (Guadalajara), Ángel Zaldívar (Guadalajara)
Expect Tuca to stick with the 4-5-1 lineup he deployed against Uruguay. It’s tough to guess what Starting XI he will select, but he did tell the press to expect significant changes for the game against the USMNT. El Tri will likely start the game rather defensively, but become more aggressive as the match progresses.
There’s little separating goalkeepers Hugo Gonzalez and Gibran Lajud. Both play for struggling Liga MX side and neither are serious contenders to unseat Guillermo Ochoa as the #1.
I picked Lajud to start, as he’s having a slightly better club season than Gonzalez. Additionally, Lajud is better than Gonzalez at controlling his eighteen, but neither keeper is particularly good.
Look for Oswaldo Alanis to start at centerback. He’s arguably the best defender on this roster, but did not feature in the loss to Uruguay. Alanis is strong in the air, a solid 1 v. 1 defender, but is quite slow.
Edson Alvarez should partner Alanis in central defense. Alvarez is surprisingly fast and is a good tackler. However, he is caught out of position too frequently.
Jesus Angulo will likely get the nod at leftback. Angulo is a strong tackler who excels at intercepting passes. He does not get involved much in the attack and is prone to overcommitting to challenges.
Luis Rodriguez has a good chance to start at rightback. Rodriguez possesses blistering pace and will often look to get involved in the attack. His only significant weakness is that he occasionally is caught too far upfield when facing quick counter-attacks.
I expect Jonathan Gonzalez to start in central midfield and believe that Ricardo Ferretti will have him highly motivated to show the U.S. what it missed out on.
Gonzalez will drop deep in midfield and will be expected to do a lot of defensive work. Gonzalez is very good at doing the little things right, in particular he excels at slowing the game down and making smart passes to keep possession. While he is undoubtedly talented, he is still raw and offers little attacking threat.
Look for Orbelin Pineda to partner Jonathan Gonzalez in midfield. Pineda is extremely fast, has an exceptional motor and is a skilled dribbler. However he struggles with man marking and does not contribute enough goals or assists (1 goal and 1 assist in 7 Liga MX appearances this season).
Look for Alan Pulido to play as a center attacking midfielder, just under Jimenez. Pulido typically plays as a striker, but was used as a playmaking midfielder against Uruguay.
He is a good dribbler who is exceptionally fast and surprisingly strong. However Pulido’s finishing is not good enough.
Elias Hernandez should get the nod at right midfield. Hernandez has been playing well in Liga MX (4 goals, 3 assists in 8 appearances) and is one of the few veterans on this squad. Hernandez is an excellent crosser with superb vision.
Ricardo Ferretti has several options at left midfield including Roberto Alvarado, Diego Lainez, and Erick Aguirre. I’m predicting that Roberto Alvarado earns the start, although thats far from certain.
Alvarado is a promising youngster (20) who likes to cut into the box from the wing and is not afraid to shoot from distance. While his finishing is solid, it could be better and at times he can be lazy defensively.
Raul Jimenez is the best attacking threat on this roster and scored Mexico’s only goal against Uruguay. Jimenez is a classic target man who is lethal in the air and excels at holding the ball up.
With Mexico in poor form and fielding a team lacking many of its stars, the U.S. should be favored. Expect a close match, as Mexico will surely play better than they did against Uruguay. I’m predicting a 2-1 U.S. victory.