The United States men’s national team resumes its World Cup qualifying campaign with a meeting with Mexico in Columbus, Ohio Friday. Columbus has typically proved a happy hunting ground for the U.S. with the Yanks having won four consecutive meetings with El Tri at Mapfre Stadium by a scoreline of “dos a cero,” or 2-0.
But Jurgen Klinsmann’s team will have its hands full this time as it lines up against a stacked Mexico squad. His counterpart Juan Carlos Osorio has pulled out all the stops, calling up a high-powered squad led by the likes of Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Giovani Dos Santos, and in-form striker Carlos Vela.
Klinsmann too has called up just about the strongest squad available to him including teenage Borussia Dortmund sensation Christian Pulisic, Toronto FC duo Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley, and the Colorado Rapids pair of midfielder Jermaine Jones and goalkeeper Tim Howard. While the Mexico team sheet is likely to offer more quality, the Yanks are a formidable prospect playing in Columbus, one of the few venues in the country where they benefit from a decidedly pro-American crowd.
But while Mexico will benefit from having experienced hands like Dos Santos, Hernandez and veteran defender Rafa Marquez onboard, this is a relatively young U.S. side, inexperienced in the ways of heated contests with the bitter rival from south of the border. With no Clint Dempsey or Landon Donovan to turn to, the leadership burden will fall on the likes of Howard, Jones and Bradley, the three most experienced and battle-hardened players in the team.
Of the three, only Howard and Bradley seem certain to start, with Jones only recently having returned from an injury-imposed absence. Friday night’s clash will provide a platform for a new generation of American talent to make its mark on the USA-Mexico rivalry. In addition to Pulisic, Hamburg striker Bobby Wood is likely to start in the attack, paired with Altidore. In the defense, Hertha Berlin center-back John Brooks has a lock on a starting berth, likely in tandem with Omar Gonzalez, while the outside back positions are likely to be filled by DeAndre Yedlin and Fabian Johnson.
If Jones indeed starts on the bench, Bradley is likely to be paired in midfield with Sacha Kljestan with Pulisic and Alejandro Bedoya occupying the wings.
On the Mexican side, Osorio is likely to deploy a 3-3-3-1 formation with Hernandez as the lone striker and Giovani Dos Santos and brother Jonathon in midfield. While the U.S. has the home field advantage, Mexico will have something to prove Friday night as they try to shake off the “dos a cero” juju, which could make them a dangerous opponent.
Watch the USA vs. Mexico in World Cup qualifying, this Friday November 11 at 7:45 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1.