The United States are in Nashville tomorrow night to face Mexico in the 2nd friendly of U.S. Soccer’s fall Kickoff Series (8:30pm ET, ESPN/Univision). The USMNT are coming off a 2-0 loss to Brazil last Friday in New Jersey, while Mexico got shot into orbit by Uruguay in Houston, 4-1. But, we all know what the USA-Mexico rivalry entails, and we know that neither team will be dwelling much on their previous match. It’s all about bringing the intensity, the determination, the tough play that we’ve seen in previous installments of one of the world’s best international rivalry matches.
Who will etch their name into the history of this rivalry? Which team will be better in Nashville? For many of the USMNT’s young players, this is their first opportunity to play El Tri in this not-so-friendly match. They have to be excited to hit the field and show that they can set the tone in the future of this matchup.
L (0-2) - Brazil - friendly
D (1-1) - France - Friendly
L (1-2) - Ireland - Friendly
W (3-0) - Bolivia - Friendly
W (1-0) - Paraguay - Friendly
L (1-4) - Uruguay - Friendly
L (0-2) - Brazil - 2018 World Cup Round of 16
L (0-3) - Sweden - 2018 World Cup Group F
W (2-1) - South Korea - 2018 World Cup Group F
W (1-0) - Germany - 2018 World Cup Group F
What To Watch For
Keep the emotions in check. Sure, this is a rivalry match, the CONCACAF rivalry and one of the best in the world. The game will get testy at times. This young group has to keep their emotions at bay when Mexico tries to pull stuff that would warrant retaliation. Mexico thinks they can play mind games to get this young USMNT squad angry. Hopefully the kids can stand their ground but do so while keeping calm and not letting Mexico win the psychological battle.
Stay hungry on offense. Mexico’s runs are going to allow the U.S. plenty of chances to counter and get into open space, particularly with our fast wings and fullbacks. We didn’t convert on our chances on offense, but against Mexico we will have the opportunities to get in the box and make something happen. Mexico will also be without their number one Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa, so if they send shots at the net, they will get a couple past the line.
The defense must come up big. One easy way to give Mexico momentum is to let them run rampant in the final third. If the defense can quickly snuff out the Mexican attack, it will demoralize their forwards and midfielders. Mexico gets frustrated easily, and if they become frustrated, they become very vulnerable. The defense should focus on providing Mexico a healthy dose of frustration.
There will be a lot of changes to the lineup, as several players are returning to their clubs. I think because it’s Mexico and we want the result, Dave Sarachan goes again with Zack Steffen in goal. Though, it will not be surprising if he gives Alex Bono the start to continue to rotate players.
On defense, DeAndre Yedlin and SSFC Man of the Match Matt Miazga will return to the lineup, joined by Eric Lichaj and Cameron Carter-Vickers. Antonee Robinson could also keep his spot in the lineup in place of Lichaj. We will likely see some rotation during the match too with Tim Parker and Shaq Moore getting some playing time.
In the middle, Wil Trapp will once again wear the captain’s armband and be the main holding midfielder. Kellyn Acosta will also get the nod ahead of Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie, who should also get some time in the middle against El Tri. Tim Weah will get the nod on the left, and expect Cristian Roldan to start on the right.
Up top, look for Bobby Wood and Gyasi Zardes to start as the two strikers, while Andrija Novakovich could also see the field as a substitute.
This will be a hard fought match, one that goes back and forth. It will be chippy, and tempers will flare. In the end, the United States will fight hard and it will be a younger player making their mark on the rivalry and will get the winner late to secure a 2-1 win for the Americans.
Who do you predict Dave Sarachan will start? What’s your scoreline? Let the comments section be your guide.