The USA begins its final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying tomorrow in Columbus, Ohio against hated rivals Mexico. The Mexicans come into the match as underdogs and rightfully so. They haven’t beaten the US in the US in almost a decade, they have some key players out due to injury, and they barely qualified to get into this last round of qualification, advancing only on goal difference. That said, I still think the Mexican team has a decent chance of upsetting the US. Most of the US team has been playing for their respective clubs, mostly in Europe but some in the US. So Bob Bradley’s team has only recently been able to play together as a team. Meanwhile, the vast majority of players on the Mexican side play for Mexican teams. This allows the team more time together to practice and get a better feel of playing as a team. Sure, many of the US team players have played together in the past but who knows how well the players will gel. My main point is to not underestimate the Mexicans, they have too many good players and would love nothing more than to beat the US on their own soil. Either way, both teams should easily make it to World Cup South Africa, the third team from the CONCACAF is anyone’s guess.
Things to look for:
1. The Columbus crowd: all told to wear red for the game. They could be a big help to the home side.
2. The Mexican formation: whether they use one forward or two will show if they’re really going for the win or settling for a draw.
3. The USA inner midfielders: are they mature enough to dictate the transition from defending to attacking and vice versa?
4. Cards: this rivalry has made tempers boil over before and if rough play starts early we could see a number of yellow cards and maybe some red.
5. Field conditions: the Mexicans have complained about field conditions before and tomorrow’s forecast is for high winds and thundershowers. Will either team benefit from the conditions?