Well the series of post-World Cup friendlies (ludicrously called the Kickoff Series) has gotten off to the start that just about everybody expected it to: with a loss to Brazil. For most of the game, the US youngsters were outclassed, outmatched and outgunned. Not that it was unexpected. Brazil is one of the top teams in the world and had a roster that was chock full of world class players. And while the US has young talent coming through the pipeline, it’s obvious that they still have a long way to go. The focus now shifts away from Brazil and on to the next game against a big time rival: Mexico.
It may have been unrealistic to expect a young US squad to get a result against Brazil so a 2-0 is not too terribly disheartening (not that it should be celebrated either, as some are suggesting). The game against Mexico represents a much more manageable, though still formidable, task. It may seem goofy to say, but Mexico is obviously not Brazil. While the US has only beaten Brazil once and very rarely competed, the series against Mexico has been very evenly matches the last 20 years. Since the year 2000 the series stands at 13 US wins, 7 Mexico wins, and 6 draws. There have been ebbs and flows that have seen one team appear to get the upper hand only for the other shoe to drop and the other team ascend. From 2000-2009 it was all US, with Mexico winning only twice. Then from 2009-2011 it was all Mexico as they won three straight (including two Gold Cup finals) and were unbeaten in four straight. Then Jurgen Klinsmann arrived to coach the US and brought the s back up with a six match unbeaten run against the Mexicans (three wins and three draws, including a win and a draw at the Azteca in Mexico City). And most recently it’s been Mexico on the up and up with a win in the 2015 CONCACAF Cup (to clinch a berth in the 2017 Confederations Cup), breaking the Dos a Cero curse in Columbus with a 2-1 win in November 2016 and then a draw at Azteca last summer. When these two teams play, just about anything can happen and a positive result can swing momentum towards the winner.
Mexico comes into this game a little unsure of themselves. They got their World Cup off to a dream start with wins over Germany and South Korea before completely melting down against Sweden in the group stage finale and then getting bounced out of the tournament in the Round of 16 for the seventh consecutive time. It’s been rough sledding since then as well. In their most recent outing on Friday, they got walloped 4-1 in Houston by Uruguay. They have also lost their manager Juan Carlos Osorio who has taken the same position with Paraguay (Osorio was widely rumored to have been a candidate for the USMNT job, but reports suggest that nobody from US Soccer even reached out to him) and in his place is Tuca Ferretti, in his second interim stint with El Tri. His first interim stint he was 2-0-2 (W-L-D) and guided Mexico to a win over the US in the 2015 CONCACAF Cup. His squad for this game is mostly domestic based, and like the US is comprised mostly of young up and coming players. Of the 21 players, only three are non-Liga MX players: Oswaldo Alanis of Oviedo in Spain, Jonathan dos Santos of LA Galaxy in MLS, and Raul Jimenez of Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League. Up front the man to watch is Alan Pulido who seemed primed for a breakout in 2014 but has only managed to earn a total of 10 caps for El Tri (scoring five times). In goal they feature two uncapped keepers (Hugo Gonzalez and Gibran Lajud).
1. US interim manager Dave Sarachan said that there will be around 4 or 5 or 6 lineup changes from the Brazil game on Friday.
2. Paul Arriola has been released from camp to head back to DC United.
3. The latest ticket count for the game is around 31,000. If that sounds low for a US/Mexico game in an NFL stadium, it is. Prices are: $55 for upper bowl, $85 for behind the goal and anywhere from $125 to $400 for lower bowl along the sidelines. It’s almost like fans don’t want to spend buckets of money to go watch a weeknight friendly. Odd.
When and where to watch the game on US TV and streaming
USA trails 18-34-15
June 11, 2017
Mexico City, Mexico
USA 1-1 Mexico
Current FIFA ranking
October 11, 2018
USA vs. Colombia
Raymond James Stadium