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USA vs. Mexico, 2022 World Cup qualifying: What to watch for

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The big match is almost here. Let’s get prepared.

United States v Mexico: Championship - CONCACAF Nations League Finals Photo by John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images

The United States Men’s National Team enters the November international window looking for a full 6 points to add to its total in World Cup qualifying. The first test is the game that is always circled first on the calendar: USMNT vs. Mexico. The site of the home qualifier is new, the heralded TQL Stadium that’s just 100 miles down the road from where USA vs. Mexico became an event. But, the intensity of the rivalry is still constant and that fierceness will take center stage tomorrow night.

Latest Form

USA

W (2-1) - Costa Rica - World Cup Qualifying

L (0-1) - Panama - World Cup Qualifying

W (2-0) - Jamaica - World Cup Qualifying

W (4-1) - Honduras - World Cup Qualifying

D (1-1) - Canada - World Cup Qualifying

Mexico

L (0-3) - Ecuador - Friendly

W (2-0) - El Salvador - World Cup Qualifying

W (3-0) - Honduras - World Cup Qualifying

D (1-1) - Canada - World Cup Qualifying

D (1-1) - Panama - World Cup Qualifying

What To Watch For

Eat on set pieces. Mexico is going to allow for some opportunities for goals, and we know that there will be chances from set pieces. Set pieces are how we’ve scored all 4 goals this year against El Tri. To get these chances, the attackers have to get behind the defense and cause them to spread out a bit. Whether it’s corners or other free kicks or forcing them to foul in the box and hammer home penalties, the USMNT needs to focus on creating those chances where they can find an advantage.

Keep Mexico’s attackers under wraps. The USMNT back line cannot let guys like Hirving Lozano, Rogelio Funes Mori, or Raúl Jiménez get open space to run, because that’s how they hurt teams. The American defense needs to make sure they keep everyone in front of them and clean up any garbage balls inside the box. Don’t add any pressure by getting cute with the ball in the back. Get the ball forward as quickly as possible.

Don’t get swallowed up by the moment. This is the biggest match in World Cup qualifying. Both teams want badly to win and have the bragging rights as well as the 3 points. The crowd will be electric, the nerves and anticipation will all be there. For those players on the field that have not experienced a USA-Mexico match, they have to embrace the intensity, the pressure, the chaos, and not get swallowed by it.

Lineup Prediction

The USMNT have some decisions to make, particularly with their star Christian Pulisic. Pulisic, who just returned from an injury he suffered back in September against Honduras, will need his minutes managed, but what it means is that it’s likely that he doesn’t start against Mexico. He could obviously appear as a substitute, but with other injuries to normal starters like Sergiño Dest and Gio Reyna, and with John Brooks not brought into camp, Gregg Berhalter likely opts for battle-tested guys that he knows he can count on in the starting XI:

Matt Turner wins the starting job over Zack Steffen at goalkeeper, and the line of defense in front of him will have Antonee Robinson, Walker Zimmerman, Miles Robinson, and Reggie Cannon. You can expect to see DeAndre Yedlin to replace Cannon if Berhalter thinks he needs more speed down the flank.

In the middle, Tyler Adams operates at the 6 and Weston McKennie starts as the 8. There’s room here for Yunus Musah, but Berhalter will likely opt for Sebastian Lletget as the 3rd midfielder.

Up front, Ricardo Pepi is the 9 and has earned the starting role with his recent play in a USMNT jersey. Brenden Aaronson starts in place of Christian Pulisic on the left wing, and Paul Arriola begins on the right wing to serve as a worker to stop any Mexico counterattacks.

Prediction

Sometimes, you just can’t help yourself. Dos a Cero to the United States.