The October round of World Cup Qualifying for the USMNT was better than the September round of World Cup Qualifying.
First off, Gregg Berhalter’s squad earned six points as compared to five in September. Also, after two draws and a win, the USMNT looked more comfortable with two wins. Although, the matchday five loss to Panama drew some ire.
However, it still felt like much more could have been achieved. Unfortunately for fans of the U.S., this is an all-too-familiar feeling under Gregg Berhalter.
Thankfully, the U.S. took care of business in both home qualifiers. However, an incredibly frustrating loss to Panama separated the wins. It was the first time the US had ever lost to the Canaleros in a World Cup Qualifier. It leaves the US in decent shape in the Octagonal, sitting in second place with eight games remaining.
Now, the most important game thus far comes against the country’s biggest soccer rival: Mexico.
USMNT Roster for November
Gregg Berhalter’s roster for this pair of qualifiers is a mixed bag of European based players and MLS players. Notably, John Brooks’s name did not appear on the team sheet largely due to his self-admitted poor club form. Similarly, Barcelona full-back Sergiño Dest will miss these two games with an injury.
However, Christian Pulisic is back after missing the October window with yet another injury. Joining him up front are several of the exciting youngsters from MLS. FC Dallas players Ricardo Pepi and Jesus Ferreira are on the roster, as is Tim Weah from LOSC Lille. In the midfield there’s a lot of promise with Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Yunus Musah, and Gianluca Busio fresh off his summer move to Venezia in Italy. And in goal it’s going to be a toss-up between Zack Steffen and Matt Turner.
A Familiar Foe
This will be the third meeting with Mexico this calendar year. Mexico and the United States play multiple games a year relatively frequently. For example, this happened in 2007, 2009,2011, 2013, 2015, and most recently in 2019. Usually one or two of those games in the same year are cash-grab friendlies. Often, U.S. Soccer uses the attendance cheat code that is playing Mexico in the U.S. to boost attendance and revenue.
However, this year is different. All three games are competitive games with real meaning. To start, The U.S. picked up a dramatic win the the CONCACAF Nations League Final. Then, Miles Robinson’s heroics edged Mexico in the Gold Cup Final. Now, the two nations meet again in a World Cup Qualifier in Cincinnati.
Unlike the first two games, this is a soccer-specific stadium in Ohio. Expect a majority-American fanbase. The two previous games this year occurred in football stadiums out west in Denver and Las Vegas. There, a healthy contingent of Mexican supporters practically made it a home game. On four occasions, games in soccer-specific stadiums stymied El Tri before they reversed that trend in 2016. Can the US get it back rolling again?
This will be the first U.S. home qualifier against Mexico to not be played in Columbus since April 1997. Then, the two nations tied at Foxborough Stadium in Massachusetts.
The United States-Mexico game kicks off just after 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 12. TQL Stadium in Cincinnati hosts the contest
Outlook on Mexico
Mexico comes into this game against the US ahead of the Americans in the standings. Yet, the Mexicans do not seem unbeatable like they did in 2019. Tata Martino’s first year in charge saw El Tri lay waste to CONCACAF, posting a 16-1-0 record while winning the Gold Cup and finishing top of their Nations League group. Then, the COVID pandemic hit. Even then, they still went 4-0-1 in five games.
Things began to slow down just a little with the Nations League semifinal against Costa Rica going all the way to penalties. Of course, Mexico then dropped the final against the United States. Then came the Gold Cup. Mexico swept into the final with their A-team but fell again in extra time to the U.S. B-team. So far in qualifying, they sit top of the Octagonal with 14 points after getting wins against Jamaica, Costa Rica, Honduras, and El Salvador. Two draws with Canada and Panama finish off their six previous games.
Their roster consists of all the usual suspects: Guillermo Ochoa in goal, Hector Moreno and Jesus Gallardo on the back line, Andres Guardado and Hector Herrera in the midfield, and a frontline of Raul Jimenez, Jesus Corona, and Hirving “Chucky” Lozano.
CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Standings
How to watch
Mexico leads the all-time series against the United States. The Mexicans have 36 wins, 15 draws and 21 losses. The last time these two teams played was that Gold Cup Final, which the United States won 1-0 in extra time.
Currently, the United States is ranked No. 13 in FIFA rankings. Meanwhile, Mexico cracks the top-10 sitting at No. 9.
Coverage of this game will be on ESPN2, ESPN+, Univision, TUDN as well as fuboTV.
This fixture marks the halfway point in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying.
After Friday’s contest, the USMNT plays their return fixture against Jamaica down in Kingston. On the other hand, Mexico travels north to take on Canada in Edmonton.
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