The United States and Mexico will be aiming to take another step forward in their preparations for this summer’s Gold Cup when the long-time rivals clash at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Wednesday night. The soccer rivals, who could square off again on U.S. soil in the knockout stages of the Concacaf championship, will be meeting for the first time since a 2-2 draw a year ago.
But because the match, as was the case last April, falls out of a recognized FIFA international window, both the U.S. and Mexico have been largely denied the chance to call up those players currently based in Europe. And U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has explained that his inability to select a first-choice lineup means the match won’t be an accurate dress rehearsal for his team’s attempts to defend their Gold Cup crown in July.
“This game doesn’t really help you to kind of zoom in because you’re restricted to the players that you just have available now,” he told U.S. Soccer. “But it’s a great opportunity for everyone individually to show where they are right now and where they are at this stage with their MLS teams and down in Mexico. The closer we get to the Gold Cup, the more we kind of define things.”
Still, there are plenty of familiar faces in Klinsmann’s squad. Nine players went to the 2014 World Cup, including Michael Bradley, Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez and Kyle Beckerman. Also involved are DeAndre Yedlin and Julian Green, with the young duo’s lack of involvement for their European clubs meaning they were allowed to meet up for the friendly international.
In contrast, Klinsmann’s counterpart, Miguel Herrera, appears to have opted against pushing for a similar release of two of his regular squad members getting very little playing time in Europe. In addition to the absence of Guillermo Ochoa and Diego Reyes, there will also be several established names from Liga MX missing, such as goalkeeper Jesus Corona, wing-back Paul Aguilar and midfielder Marco Fabian. Instead Herrera appears to be taking a closer look at those individuals who could fill out his large player pool this summer. As well as aiming to reclaim the Gold Cup, Mexico will take part in South America’s Copa America in June, and Herrera has stated that he will take two different squads to the two competitions.
Herrera has already named his lineup for the match, which includes debutant and former Real Salt Lake defender Carlos Salcedo as well another player with Major League Soccer experience, Erick “Cubo” Torres. Luis Montes will captain the team in his first international match since breaking his leg in a friendly ahead of last year’s World Cup, while striker Eduardo “Lalo” Herrera will get another chance to impress after scoring on his first El Tri start against Paraguay last month. Despite the inexperienced lineup, Mexico’s coach insists that he is determined for his side to emerge victorious over their local foes.
“Bringing these young players isn't just to see them and leave the matchh," Herrera said, reports Goal.com. "We're going forward with every intention of winning it and knowing you don't lose these rivalry matches. It has become a rivalry everybody wants to win. We've talked with the guys we've brought in now and I see a great attitude in all of them."
After reports that Mexico were threatening to pull out of the match due to the poor quality of the field at the Alamodome, U.S. Soccer has stressed that it will be in much better condition by kickoff time on Wednesday.
USA (probable, 4-4-2)
D: Yedlin, Besler, Gonzalez, Garza
M: Corona, Beckerman, Bradley, Zardes
F: Wondolowski, Agudelo
Mexico (confirmed, 5-3-2)
D: Flores, Mier, Rodríguez, Salcedo, Velarde
M: Osuna, Esquivel, Montes
F: Torres, Herrera
Kickoff time: 8: 30 p.m. EDT
TV channel: Fox Sports 1, UniMas, Univision Deportes