The ‘Tri’, the only undefeated team in the Concacaf octagonal next to Canada, will visit its neighbor and staunch rival on the seventh day at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati (Ohio), in a clash that will start on Friday at 9:00 p.m. local time ( 02H00 GMT on Saturday).
With 14 points, in four wins and two draws, Mexico surpasses the irregular American team by three points, which recovers its star Christian Pulisic for the double knockout date of November.
The Chelsea striker threatens to put the depleted Mexican defense in trouble, who will not be able to count on Néstor Araújo (Celta de Vigo) due to suspension and has his usual partner, Héctor Moreno (Monterrey), in doubt due to physical problems.
Coach Gerardo Martino will entrust the stripes in defense to the mighty Johan Vásquez (Genoa) while he could opt for veterans Héctor Herrera (Atlético de Madrid) and Andrés Guardado (Betis) for the battle in the center of the field.
In attack, the ‘Tata’ is expected to put his fearsome trident formed by the talented Hirving ‘Chucky’ Lozano (Naples) and Jesús ‘Tecatito’ Corona (Porto) and the defining Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton) into the fray.
Almost a year away by a skull fracture, Mexico missed Jiménez’s gunpowder in the two Concacaf tournaments in 2021, in which the United States challenged its traditional hegemony in the region.
In June, the Stars and Stripes team defeated ‘Tri’ 3-2 in a chaotic final of the first edition of the Concacaf Nations League.
After this victory, the first for the United States over Mexico in a Concacaf final in 14 years, Gregg Berhalter’s team had the luxury of beating him again in the Gold Cup final despite having reserved their figures for the World Cup qualifiers.
– Pulisic to the rescue –
After celebrating the two titles, the young American team is struggling to score points in the rough Concacaf qualifiers, in which they already failed to qualify for Russia-2018.
To subdue a Mexico with wounded pride, Berhalter will have at his command Christian Pulisic, absent in October due to an ankle injury.
It remains to be seen if Pulisic will start or start from the bench, after Chelsea have used him with an eyedropper in recent games.
Another of the new American jewels, Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), did not recover in time for the clash against Mexico or for Tuesday in Jamaica.
Although he also lost to Sergiño Dest (FC Barcelona) through injury, Berhalter aspires to complete a trio of victories against Mexico this year.
“This game is a great opportunity because Mexico is leading the group and we will try to reach them,” he advanced.
In the previous five Concacaf World Cup qualifiers, the United States beat Mexico at home four consecutive times by a score of 2-0 and lost 2-1 in the last.
– Possible alignments:
USA: Zach Steffen – DeAndre Yedlin, Miles Robinson, Chris Richards, Antonee Robinson – Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie, Yunus Musah – Brenden Aaronson, Christian Pulisic (o Paul Arriola) y Ricardo Pepi. DT: Gregg Berhalter.
Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa – Luis Rodríguez, Johan Vásquez, Gilberto Sepúlveda, Jesús Gallardo – Edson Álvarez, Héctor Herrera, Andrés Guardado – Hirving Lozano, Jesús Corona and Raúl Jiménez. DT: Gerardo Martino.