The disappointment of the Gold Cup is still lingering for many US fans. Not only did the USMNT lose to Mexico in the final, they looked less than impressive in several games along the way. Right off the bat, even before the Gold Cup got under way, there were dispiriting and ugly home losses to Jamaica and Venezuela. Then there were first half struggles against a Guyana team ranked 177th in the world. That was followed by a typical, ugly, rock fight of a game against Panama. The quarterfinal against mighty Curacao was nearly a debacle, with the US holding on for a victory despite being out-possessed, out-shot, out-hustled, and out-worked. And of course the final against Mexico where the US looked good early on but then was completely overwhelmed when Gregg Berhalter either could not or would not adjust his game plan to counter the changes made by Tata Martino which resulted in the US losing 1-0 to El Tri. Now they get another crack at Mexico and while it won’t come close to erasing the sting of defeat from July, it’s still a game the US badly needs to win.
The roster for this pair of friendlies has, quite shockingly, featured a decent number of young European-based players. Of course, there are always going to be a high number of MLS players who will continue to get called up despite proving time and again that they are not up to snuff at the international level. Chief among those is Gyasi Zardes (which appears to be a hill that Berhalter is willing to die on) whose spectacular series of missed golden chances in league play have caused both a great deal of laughter and a great deal of consternation on social media. Also called back in is Jordan Morris who has had a moderately successful season with the Seattle Sounders, but nothing that set the world on fire. But on the positive side a number of the players that US fans have been begging to see are finally here. Josh Sargent is back after not being allowed to go to the Gold Cup or the U20 World Cup (despite Berhatler calling him the striker of the future). Tyler Boyd comes back into the team after a summer move to Turkish giants Beşiktaş. FC Dallas youngster Paxton Pomykal earns his first call up. And a pair of young exciting defenders in Miles Robinson of Atlanta United and Sergino Dest of Ajax have US fans salivating about the possibilities. Throw in the mix of European vets like John Brooks, Tim Ream, Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic, and this might be a team capable of competing with Mexico and Uruguay.
Since hiring Tata Martino away from Atlanta United, its been all sunshine and rainbows for Mexico. In his ten games in charge, Martino has won all ten games. And they’ve looked good doing it too. A 3-1 win over Chile, a 4-2 over Paraguay, a 3-1 win over Venezuela (who housed the US 3-0), a 7-0 win over Cuba, and of course the win in the final against the US. There were a pair of close calls along the way (a penalty shootout win over Costa Rica and an extra time win over Haiti) but if you win the trophy those things are forgotten. Mexico’s roster for this game (and for the friendly against Argentina) is absolutely loaded. With the exception of Carlos Vela, almost every A-team player for Mexico is here. Guillermo Ochoa is in goal. Hector Morena, Miguel Layun, and Diego Reyes are all present to marshal the back line. The midfield has Andres Guardado, Jonathan dos Santos (who scored the winner against the US in the Gold Cup Final), Marco Fabian, and Edson Alvarez. Up front are Chicharito Hernandez (fresh off a move from West Ham to Sevilla), Raul Jimenez, and Chucky Lozano. Throw in a world class manager in Tata Martino into this team, and this turns into quite a formidable game.
1. This is the second time the US has immediately followed a Gold Cup Final loss to Mexico with a friendly against Mexico. The previous occasions was in 2011.
2. Tata Martino is now 5-0-1 (W-L-D) all time against Gregg Berhalter and has outscored him 11-2.
3. Notably absent from the US camp are Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, and Omar Gonzalez. Berhalter said they were allowed to stay with Toronto FC as they make a final push to get into the playoffs.
When and where to watch the game on US TV and streaming
USA trails 19-35-15
Sunday, July 7, 2019
USA 0-1 Mexico
Current FIFA Ranking