It’s that time. It’s that moment, the storied match up between the neighbors of North America. No, not Canada and the United States, look southward. Yeah that’s right. The United States and Mexico, the Yanks and El Tri, are scheduled to match up Tuesday evening on the soil of Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH.
What has occurred between these two teams over the years has become a very physical and menacing rivalry, one that has the USMNT facing a 16-32-12 record against the young Mexican squad. The record, although lopsided, doesn’t show the blood, sweat, and tears these teams have sacrificed against each other over the years. The reputation of the US has been that of the underdog, and has had a rough time facing the majority of soccer superpowers across the globe. Mexico, however, being one of those powers, knows that taking the United States on will not be a simple task.
Especially now, that Juergen Klinsmann has control of the reigns for the United States. A former national player and coach for the Germans, Klinsmann has brought some European flavor into the US locker room. A fervent tactician with an intense emotional output, Klinsmann guided the men’s team to an outstanding 12-0 record, which held the longest on the international stage and the best in United States men’s history; until the Costa Rican team decided to bring the budding US team back to Earth last Friday night.
The loss added insult to injury as the United States lost Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Matt Besler, and Geoff Cameron in the matchup; the first to injury, a pregame warm-up in which Bradley rolled his left ankle, the latter three due to yellow card suspensions. The following additions to replace those key players end up being Brad Davis, Clarence Goodson, Joe Corona, and Jose Torres. Although I would’ve enjoyed seeing midfielder, Sasha Kljestan, due to his previous experience on the US team, as well as finding minutes for the Belgian and Champions League team, Anderlecht.
Although Mexico has their team mostly intact, it hasn’t been the best World Cup qualifying round for the El Tri. Instead, the promising group of young players has faced a tumultuous outing, staring down a 1-5-1 record, a head scratcher for the team and their fans. The latest drama surrounding Mexico was the outing of manager Jose Manuel de la Torre who had not had the best reputation as the head honcho of the Mexican National Team. With the young and aspiring core, El Tri could have been a much more dangerous team. However, the lack of tactical maneuvers and lineup changes against lesser opponents led to his demise. I think Mexico has taken that breath of relief once his ejection went public.
So what do we have to look forward to other than a historic rivalry?
With the United States, it’ll come down to the depth of their squad and how Klinsmann will utilize it. Damarcus Beasley will most likely be benched due to his poor performance against the Costa Rican strikers per Ben Bromley of SB Nation; Fabian Johnson is the likely pick for that left back position. The veteran presence of Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Tim Howard should also be noted as well, in order to corral the team if it faces early adversity.
Mexico will have an interim manager, Luis Fernando Tena leading the charge. Hopefully for them, he’ll be able to find a more effective way of using Mexico’s speed and precision in the midfield to feed the young strikers who are salivating at the chance to show their country that it’s just been poor preparation that has been the woe of this World Cup’s qualifying run.
Columbus, OH, the battleground. Mexico and the United States, the combatants. Who will take it and notch another victory during this rivalry?