By Joey Sisti
On Wednesday the United States Men’s national soccer team will host archrival Mexico in San Antonio. The two sides haven’t met since April of last year in a match that ended in a 2-2 draw. Though it’s the spring after a World Cup and neither has their full force roster, there should still be the same amount of energy as if this was a World Cup final. The two sides flat out dislike one another and bring it every time they square off.
What to watch for:
With this summer’s Gold Cup looming large, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann will begin to narrow down his potential player pool for the competition. Klinsmann will try to field as powerful a team as possible which means we’ll see a mix of veterans and some up-and-coming talent. Though results matter, individual performances matter more. Players need to start show casing what they can bring to the stage on the international level.Embed from Getty Images
Aside from the Gold Cup, the game’s most intriguing storyline is the return of Juan Agudelo, who has not been in a senior team uniform since this time last year. After failing to secure a work visa in England, the now New England forward spent a whole year out of club football. Now Agudelo is back, playing first team minutes for last year’s MLS cup runner up. His skill, speed, and finishing ability are assets the United States’ forward line could most certainly use.
Possible Starting XI:
I think the United States will utilize a 4-3-3 and come out firing against their rival. The only positions that need a little justification are Shea at left wing and Agudelo as the striker over Wondolowski. If the United States is going to run a 4-3-3, I think Shea is best suited for a position up top. His best international level moments come from attacking positions, not defensive ones. Though he is currently playing at left back for Orlando City, I think it’s time to explore different options for the international stage. Not to mention the US have a suitable option like Greg Garza replacing Shea at left back. I see no reason to not move the Orlando City man to the front line.
As for Agudelo, I feel like if you bring him, you have to play him. He’s in great form with New England and needs to get as many game minutes under his belt as possible. Agudelo is a talented player and at 22 years old his status for the future of the national team bodes better than Chris Wondolowski’s.
In the midfield I can see Klinsmann going with a three-man group of Diskerud, Bradley, and Beckerman. Diskerud and Bradley will likely play at the top of an inverted pyramid and Beckerman will play behind and clean up the mess. I think going with an experienced midfield will help take the pressure off a raw, but talented strikeforce.Embed from Getty Images
Finally, on the back line, I think Klinsmann will start some familiar faces. The Besler-Gonzalez pairing is one we could see this upcoming summer during the Gold Cup, so why not roll with it here? The two need to put to rest the doubters who have criticized the centerback’s play since last summer’s World Cup. As for the outside backs, Garza and Yedlin provide good help up their respective flanks and can provide solid service into the box. I think both were taken from their clubs because they’re slated to play. Klinsmann wouldn’t waste a call up on these two and sit them on the bench. As for the keeper position, Nick Rimando seems like the logical pseudo-number one until Howard or Guzan is called back into camp.
My prediction is 2-1 in favor of the United States. I think the United States can overpower a rather weak Mexico side from the get go. Mexico’s squad does not include mainstays Javier Hernandez, Rafa Marquez, or Giovanni Dos Santos. This lack of experience, and overall talent, will be the downfall of Mexico in San Antonio.