El Tri VS USMNT: “Friendly”

North America’s clasico will feature two teams far from full strength. While both MLS and Liga MX are in full swing, both Mexican and US international squads are reeling with turnover and inactivity since the World Cup. Add a pointless non-FIFA date, and you have the recipe for a dull affair that will have you reaching for the remote.

REAL USMNT and El Tri fans beg to differ however. In this rivalry there is no such thing as a friendly. With bragging rights and Gold Cup roster spots wide open, this group of domestic based players have more to lose than a meaningless friendly.

How do Klinsmann and Herreras C teams stack up?

Defenders

USMNT: Ventura Alvarado (Club America), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders FC), Greg Garza (Club Tijuana), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Brek Shea (Orlando City SC), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)

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Mexico:  Oswaldo Alanis (Santos Laguna), George Corral (Queretaro), Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez (Cruz Azul), Julio Cesar Dominguez (Cruz Azul), Gerardo Flores (Cruz Azul), Hiram Mier (Monterrey), Luis Rodríguez (Chiapas), Carlos Salcedo (Chivas), Efrain Velarde (Monterrey)

The USMNT much maligned back line, especially in the final minutes of games, should be a strength. Omar Gonzales provides experience in the middle while both Greg Garza and Ventura Alvarado are very familiar with Mexico’s all Liga MX attackers. Lumbering defender Maza Rodriguez will anchor Mexico’s defense that while showing a five man back line on paper will actually be a three man affair with the outside wingers used to pressure and run the lines.

Advantage: Push – Herrera’s 5-3-2 was a thing of beauty in the WC, specifically against Brazil. Unfortunately it is a system that requires a significant amount of familiarity between the midfield and back line. Klinsmann’s men should for the most part fit into the national team much like in their respective clubs. This however could change if Herrera chooses to come out in a more basic formation.

Midfield

USMNT: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United FC), Perry Kitchen (D.C. United) Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution)

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Mexico: Adrian Aldrete (Santos Laguna), Luis Montes (Leon), Mario Osuna (Queretaro), Antonio Rios (Toluca)

Michael Bradley’s role as the Americans rock in the middle may be a thing of the past, but if there is a game that Bradley is up for… it will be any against Mexico. Kyle Beckerman has become a stabilizing force as well, and has found a home for Klinsmann as a tireless ball recovering hound. With Osuna and Rios making debuts for El Tri, and Aldrete utilized more as a defender at Santos Laguna, it will be up to the talented Luis Montes to create for Mexico.

Advantage: USMNT – Judging from Herrera’s selection of players available he will be happy conceding the middle of the field as long as he can funnel his attacks from the outside. Beckerman and Bradley will surely control the middle third of the pitch against Aldrete who will be the bottom half of Herrera’s diamond in the midfield. The question will be if Klinsmann’s midfielders will be bold enough to attack knowing Florer and Valerde will be pressuring the wings.

Forwards

USMNT: Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Julian Green (Hamburg), Jordan Morris (Stanford University), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

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Mexico:  Marco Bueno (Toluca), Carlos Esquivel (Toluca), Eduardo Herrera (Pumas), Erick Torres (Chivas)

Besides greybeard Wondolowski both teams feature a relatively young strikeforce. Agudelo, Green and Zardes all ooze talent and will look to impress Klinsmann. As for Mexico Cubo Torres is the prototypical goal hunting Mexican striker and Eduardo Herrera provides a big body that can bang with brawny central defenders.

Advantage: Push – Both teams will struggle to score. While Mexico’s forwards will be sucked back to help defend, the USMNT strikers will be hard pressed to find quality opportunities. Neither team features a premier scorer, and if goals do come, they will be off set pieces of busted defending.

Keepers

USMNT: Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)

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Mexico: Jonathan Orozco (Monterrey), Cirilo Saucedo (Club Tijuana)

While the US struggles to find a keeper behind Tim Howard Mexico boasts four keepers not counting Memo Ochoa (who may actually be out of favor due to riding the pine in Spain).

Advantage: Mexico – When your starting keeper was poached from your opposition because said opposition didn’t choose to call him… it is pretty telling. While Mexico may have the upper hand today, letting Yarbrough go – who is in fact one of the top young talents in Mexico – may come back and haunt El Tri.

 

Prediction: USA 1 – Mexico 0

Mexico has struggles to score even when featuring its talented European legion. Herrera has two separate tournaments to prepare for lately, and this game will be an opportunity for him to eyeball some of the younger talent at his disposal. The USMNT brings in a squad that more resembles its best side, and with experience and more talent in the midfield. It should be a much needed win for Jurgen Klinsmann.