USA and Mexico will renew their fabled rivarly on Saturday, when they face off against each other at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
We are right in the middle of the first international break of the 2019-20 season and there are some interesting match-ups on offer. One of the oldest international rivalries will be renewed on Saturday when USA welcome Mexico to the MetLife Stadium, hoping to exact revenge for their loss in the Gold Cup final.
The USMNT has been on a resurgent run since the devastating setback of missing out on last year’s FIFA World Cup. The Stars and Stripes made it all the way to the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup and despite falling at the final hurdle, Gregg Berhalter ought to be pleased with the progress his men are making under his tutelage.
Mexico, on the other hand, have only gone from strength to strength over the last year or so. Since Gerardo Martino took over in January, El Tri have lost just one game, winning the remaining nine including the aforementioned Gold Cup final, where they prevailed by the odd goal. The Hard Tackle now takes a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
Gregg Berhalter has made quite a few changes to the squad that had been picked for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The most notable absentee is experienced midfielder Michael Bradley, while the likes of Omar Gonzalez, Paul Arriola and Jozy Altidore are among those who have missed out as well.
Meanwhile, Tyler Adams, Matt Miazga, DeAndre Yedlin and Timothy Weah are all unavailable for USA due to injury, while Miles Robinson, Paxton Pomykal and Sergino Dest are hoping for their debuts over this international break. Against Mexico, however, chances are the trio will miss out.
Berhalter tends to switch between the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-3-3, but on Saturday, he is expected to stick with the 4-3-3, hoping to create overloads in the central areas. This tactic will see the right-back, a role that is likely to be reprised by Nick Lima, joining in the midfield instead of bombing down the right flank.
On the left, Tim Ream will largely provide company to the centre-backs, expected to be John Brooks and Aaron Long. Lima’s movement into the midfield in the offensive phase means the two box-to-box midfielders will bomb forward into the final third, with Alfredo Morales holding the fort in front of the backline.
These two box-to-box midfielders ought to be Weston McKennie and Cristian Roldan, whose energetic presence in the final third will hold the key to break the lines. The onus though, will be on Christian Pulisic to take the game to Mexico, with Gyasi Zardes and Tyler Boyd completing the lineup.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Steffen; Lima, Brooks, Long, Ream; Roldan, Morales, McKennie; Pulisic, Zardes, Boyd
There were no surprises on offer from Gerardo Martino when he picked his latest squad for the fixtures against USA and Argentina. In fact, there are a number of big-name players returning to the squad, with Hector Herrera, Javier Hernandez, Hirving Lozano and Miguel Layun returning to the fold.
The return of Herrera and Lozano, in particular, comes as a blessing for Martino, with the duo being a key part of his squad ahead of next year’s 2022 World Cup Qualifiers. The pair should slot straight back into the starting lineup, with Hernandez missing out to Raul Jimenez.
Like Berhalter, Martino prefers to line Mexico up in a 4-3-3, with Guillermo Ochoa picking himself in goal. For the defensive line in front of Ochoa, the Mexico head coach is spoilt for options, particularly at the heart of the defence. Against USA, Carlos Salcedo and Nesto Araujo ought to be picked, with Luis Rodriguez and Jesus Gallardo being the two full-backs.
Herrera is expected to be accompanied in the middle of the park by Edson Alvarez and Jonathan dos Santos. And, to complete the side, Jesus Corona should be joining Lozano and Jimenez in the three-man attacking unit.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Ochoa; Rodriguez, Salcedo, Araujo, Gallardo; dos Santos, Herrera, Alvarez; Corona, Jimenez, Lozano
- USA and Mexico have previously locked horns 72 times, with Mexico boasting the stronger of the head-to-head records, with 38 wins (D14 L20).
- Gregg Berhalter has lost three of the 12 matches he has overseen since taking over as the head coach for USA (W8 D1).
- Gerardo Martino is unbeaten as the Mexico boss and if you include penalty shootouts and extra-time, he boasts a 100 percent record.
- Four of the last six clashes held in USA have seen fewer than three goals.
- The USMNT will be hoping to overturn a mini-winless run in friendlies, having failed to win their last three friendly contests.
Player to Watch
Javier Hernandez may be back into the national squad, but the Sevilla new boy is unlikely to be thrust straight back into the side. In his absence, Raul Jimenez has stepped up decently, carrying his form with Wolves into international football.
Now, with Chicharito back in the fold, the onus is on Jimenez to continue to remain consistent. Otherwise, he could soon lose his place as the first-choice striker for Mexico. A tough game beckons.
USA 1-1 Mexico
A fixture that features two goal-shy sides. Neither USA nor Mexico have managed to regularly find the back of the net in their recent encounters and the one on Saturday should see the two sides tighten up, which should stem the flow of goals. The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-1 draw, with both the teams sharing the spoils.